Thursday, October 25, 2012

Spaghetti Squash with Tangy Pomegranate Sauce, Rose Water and Garlic Parsley Bechamel

A middle eastern style spaghetti squash creation!

     Spaghetti squash has a delicate light flavor and it is best when it is cooked al dente.  Soft mushy strands of spaghetti squash are not very appealing.  Crunch raw spaghetti squash is not very appealing either.  A very light crunch to the bite is the goal for cooking spaghetti squash.
     Usually I use goat's milk yogurt to make a white sauce for middle eastern style recipes.  Ever since the Italians occupied North Africa, bechamel (besciamella) sauce has become popular in many cuisines of North Africa and the middle east.  Egyptian style moussaka is a good example of how bechamel sauce was adapted to an old traditional recipe.  The garlic parsley bechamel adds a gentle soft flavor to this recipe.
     Tangy pomegranate molasses is a pre-made bottled product that is available in middle eastern market.  Tangy pomegranate molasses is used like a cooking sauce or sauce additive by many middle eastern chefs.  The tangy pomegranate flavor is quite tart, so a little bit goes a long way.
     Many Persian, Egyptian and Arabic recipes are finish with a sprinkle of aromatic water.  Citrus water, orange blossom water or rose water are often the first for adding a pleasant aroma and flavor.  Rose water can be quite strong, so only a light sprinkle is needed to create a pleasant aromatic effect.

     Spaghetti Squash:
     The size of a spaghetti squash can affect the baking time.  For the most part, a baking time of 20 to 25 minutes is sufficient for any spaghetti squash that is smaller than a football.  Any size larger and 5 or 10 minutes of extra baking time may be needed.
     Pierce two small holes on 1 whole spaghetti squash with a metal skewer to create steam vents. 
     Place the whole spaghetti squash on a rack in a 350 degree oven.
     Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, till the spaghetti squash shell feels piping hot when quickly touched.
     Remove the spaghetti squash from the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes.
     Cut the spaghetti squash in half across the middle.  
     Note:  Do not cut spaghetti squash end to end, or the spaghetti strands will be cut into short pieces!  Long strands of al dente spaghetti squash is the goal.
     Allow the spaghetti squash to cool to room temperature.
     Use a spoon to scoop out the small amount of seeds and loose pulp from the middle of the squash.
     Starting from the center layer, gently use a fork to loosen, pry and pull the long spaghetti strands of squash marrow out of the spaghetti squash.
     The spaghetti squash meat can now be portioned.  The spaghetti squash can refrigerated in a sealed container for a few days for later use.

     Garlic Parsley Bechamel Recipe:
     This recipe makes enough for 2 sauce portions!  No onion and clove piquet is needed for this bechamel version. 
     Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 4 pats of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour, while constantly stirring, to form a roux.
     Stir till the roux cooks to a white color, with very little hazelnut aroma.
     Add 1 teaspoon of finely minced garlic and constantly stir the roux for 10 seconds.  (The hot roux will instantly cook the garlic!)
     Add 1 1/3 cups of milk while whisking.
     Add 1/4 cup of cream.
     Stir as the sauce heats and thickens to a very thin sauce consistency.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a thin sauce consistency.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of nutmeg.
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of finely chopped Italian parsley, just before serving the sauce. 
     Tangy Pomegranate Sauce:
     To offset the tart flavor of bottled pomegranate molasses, onions and shallot are cooked till they become "sweet" and a small amount of sugar is added. 
     Heat a saute pan over medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of ghee or clarified butter.
     Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
     Add 1/2 clove of minced garlic.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of minced shallot.
     Add 2 tablespoons of small chopped onion.
     Gently saute and sweat the onion mixture, till the onions turn clear in color and till they become tender.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of sugar.
     Add 2 ounces of pomegranate molasses.
     Add 1/2 cup of water.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce the sauce, till a thin consistency glace sauce is formed. 
     Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.  Add water if the sauce becomes too thick, while the spaghetti squash strands are reheated.

     Spaghetti Squash with Tangy Pomegranate Sauce, Rose Water and Garlic Parsley Bechamel:
     Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat.
     Place 1 large portion (About 2 large handfuls or 2 cups) of the spaghetti squash strands in a fine mesh trainer basket.
     Dip the strainer basket with the spaghetti squash in the hot water for about 20 seconds, till the squash becomes hot.
     Remove the strainer basket from the hot water and shake any excess water back into the pot.
     Add the hot spaghetti squash to the tangy pomegranate sauce in the saute pan.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Place a tall mound of the spaghetti squash on the center of a plate.
     Spoon any excess tangy pomegranate sauce over the spaghetti squash.
     Sprinkle just a few drops of rosewater over the mound of spaghetti squash.
     Spoon garlic parsley bechamel sauce on the plate around the mound of squash.
     Sprinkle 1 small handful of pomegranate fruit over the squash and sauces. 
     Sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons of diced red bell pepper over the squash and sauces.
     Sprinkle short pieces of green onion on the sides of the mound of spaghetti squash.
     Garnish with an Italian parsley sprig.

     This spaghetti squash recipe is very tasty!  The classic Persian Arabic middle eastern flavors of this recipe bring new life to this winter squash.  The garlic parsley bechamel adds a soothing rich texture and flavor.  So yummy!  ...  Shawna 

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