Here’s a two for the price of one post. These two dishes were high-ranking in my pre-Thanksgiving extravaganza, I think everyone had seconds and make a couple had thirds. You really can’t go wrong adding cheese or caramelized onions to anything (except maybe ice cream).
First up is the squash. Again with the gourds. Yes I’m going to try and use that word as often as possible. I’ve never made anything like this before. I don’t generally gravitate towards casserole or cheese bake type things but when it comes to Thanksgiving it’s go big or go home. This recipe came from another blog, Pinch My Salt, and I think before that it came from elsewhere in the food blogging world. I made a couple of modifications but I’m glad I stuck to the recipe as written because this dish is good! Spaghetti squash is a fun food. Fun because it looks so intimidating and heavy when you buy it and then you cook it and it magically becomes fluffy and pasta-like and oh so very versatile. The hard part is the cutting it open. I learned that my knife did best when I cut the squash in half width wise and then cut each half in half lengthwise. Like so:
Then you basically roast the squash until good and squishy and stab and scrape the crap out of it with a fork until you’re left with a pile of stringy edible innards. Much more appetizing than turkey gizzards.
Now the hard part is done. You can prep the spaghetti squash way beforehand if you want to cut your day of cooking time down. I know it’s a bit of a stretch to call this a vegetable when you pile cream and cheese in it, but the end result had great, unique flavor and can be used as both a complement or substitute for mashed potatoes.
Spaghetti Squash Gratin
1 large spaghetti squash
1 large shallot, chopped
2-3 cloves of chopped garlic
2/3 c. heavy cream
1c. shredded parmesan or pecorino romano cheese
1 1/2t. dried thyme
1t. fresh chopped rosemary
salt and pepper
(1/2c. caramelized onions, optional…I had some leftover from the rice)
Preheat your over to 450. Cut your squash into quarters and scrape out the seeds and stringy bits. Rub the cut sides with olive oil and sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper. Lay the squash on a cookie sheet face down and roast for about 30 minutes or until soft. Allow to cool until you’re able to handle them and then, using a fork, scrape out the fleshy insides into a large bowl; they should come out looking stringy like spaghetti. Set aside.
Leave the oven on or reheat it to 450. Grease a baking dish with olive oil. In a small skillet, saute the shallots in olive oil over medium heat for several minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute or two. Pour the shallots and garlic into the bowl with the spaghetti squash. Add the caramelized onions if you’re using them, the thyme, rosemary, cream, and 1/2c. of the cheese and mix altogether. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the squash into your baking dish and spread evenly. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and cook for 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden.
The next dish is the rice. I got the suggestion for this recipe from Mark Bittman of NY Times fame who helpfully provided in last week’s column 101 ways to create different components of your Thanksgiving meal. If you’re still wondering what kind of veggies to serve or whether to do a chutney or a cranberry sauce, check it out. Anyway, I’m on a fig kick recently and you know how I feel about caramelized onions, so this choice won out. I had to figure out the proportions myself, but it wasn’t too complicated and adding the broth to make it more stuffing-like worked out. My dinner guests proclaimed this dish surprising and delicious with great texture. I think rice can be one of those dark horses…you know it’s always going to be pretty good, but unless you’re paying attention it can surprise you with the subtle flavors of the ingredients usually hiding amongst the grains. Eat it soon!
Wild Rice with Rosemary, Figs, and Caramelized Onions
2c. wild rice (I made a combo since I couldn’t find any premade version in the grocery store: 3/4c. jasmine rice to 3/4c. wild rice to 1/2c. brown rice)
3 3/4c. water
1 1/2 c. caramelized onions (about one and a half medium to large yellow onions, sliced thin)
1 1/2 c. chopped figs
2T. fresh rosemary
1c. broth, chicken, turkey, or vegetable is fine
salt and pepper
Preheat over to 350 degrees. Add the rice and the water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover the pan with a lid and reduce to a simmer, cooking for about 35-40 minutes. Stir occasionally. In a medium skillet, heat 2T. butter and 2T. olive olive over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook for about 3-5 minutes before turning heat down to medium low. Continue cooking for about 20-30 more or until sticky and dark brown. In a large bowl, mix together rice, onions, chopped rosemary and figs. Add the broth (you can use a little less or more than 1c. depending on how dry the cooked rice is) and mix until the rice absorbs the broth and the mixture is starting to stick together. Season with salt and pepper and spread into an oiled baking dish. Cover with foil and cook for about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and cooking another 7-10 minutes or until slightly browned.