We're in the heart of harvest season here in the Northeast. There's so much to try at the farmer's market. School is back in session and work is piling on at the office. The bounty can be overwhelming at times.
Turning on the oven is my response. I find skipping the stove makes me think slower and a bit sweeter, like the sweetness that comes from a squash and ripe tomato softening up in the oven.
Spaghetti Squash with Chunky Tomato Sauce is summer to fall transition cooking. The vegetarian recipe gives you one last chance to cook with this summer's excellent crop of tomatoes and sends you to the tables crowded with now-in-season squash.
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Spaghetti Squash with Chunky Tomato Sauce
For the squash: 1 medium spaghetti squash (3-4 pounds) or two small spaghetti squash 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil salt and pepper 1 cup Parmesan or fresh ricotta cheese
For the tomato sauce: 4 pounds fresh tomatoes 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 2 cloves garlic salt and pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and discard them.
2. Rub olive oil on the insides of the squash. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place the squash, cut side down, on a baking sheet.
3. Core and roughly chop the tomatoes. Finely chop the garlic. Toss the tomatoes, garlic and olive oil together in an oven-safe pot or dutch oven that has a tight fitting lid. Put the tomatoes in the oven.
4. After 45 minutes, start checking both the squash and the sauce to see if they are done. The squash is done when the insides can be poked with gently with a fork. The threads of the spaghetti squash should be slightly crunchy and watery, sometimes called "cucumber-like." If the squash flesh becomes creamy, it is over-cooked. While over-cooked spaghetti squash will still taste fine, it will not separate into its signature spaghetti-like stands. The tomatoes will be done when they have softened and have started to form a sauce.
5. Allow the squash to cool for five minutes. Then, using a fork, pull the strands of the squash out of the shell. Toss the squash with the oil and the cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste.
6. Place the squash in a serving dish and ladle the sauce on top.