The Hand Off: Spaghetti Squash with Herbed Leek Sauce
by Brianna Bain
Squash is where it’s at this week! I run towards the next hand off taking the butternut squash and the delightful medley of herb’s from Sarah’s Herb Roasted Roasted Chicken as a spring board into this week’s dish. As I mentioned in Tuesday’s post I planned to make a dish in the image of fetuccini alfredo that would bring glory to the spaghetti squash. This endeavor also came with the added adventure of supplying a satisfying meal to my Celiac (gluten allergy) and lactose intolerant (dairy allergy) family members. Ultimately materializing from this vision – a baked spaghetti squash with a creamy herbed leek sauce that proved a winner in all categories!
For my sauce I needed a vegetable that could lend itself to a certain creaminess, I turned to the trusty leek! Leeks posses a magical buttery goodness when cooked with a little oil and salt- a perfect foundation for a vegetable white sauce to top my veggie noodles, aka: spaghetti squash. Traditional alfredo sauce calls for a lot of butter, a lot of Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt and parsley. Since I had the creaminess covered with the leeks I wanted to boost the herb flavor with more than parsley alone. I added a trio of fresh herbs from my garden and turned up the zing by adding some lemon juice and zest. It’s a far cry from any alfredo sauce but as promised I am creating a dairy free variation of a traditional creamy sauce.
This dish was extremely easy to create and shop for; an ideal combination for good vegetarian dishes. In gathering ingredients for this dish from my local markets I felt very lucky to be able to source organic and seasonal produce while maintaining creative freedom. This dish is simple, easy, inexpensive, and palate pleasing all while bearing the blue ribbon as a trifecta champion in the vegetarian, gluten and dairy free categories!
Spagehetti Squash with Herbed Leek Sauce
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
- 1 medium spaghetti squash
- 3 large leeks
- zest of 1 small lemon
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 Tbs combined fresh basil, parsley and lemon thyme
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 Tbs grapeseed oil
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the leeks and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.
- Add the vegetable stock, lemon juice, lemon zest and herbs and bring to a boil.
- Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until smooth add olive oil as needed to give mixture the moisture it needs to blend well. Season with salt and pepper.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Cut the raw squash in half (long way) remove seeds the and place both halves in a large oven proof dish or baking sheet.
- Season squash with a light brushing of grape seed oil, salt and pepper.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes or until soft throughout. Test for tenderness by poking with a fork.
- Scrape squash from skin using a fork going with the grains of the spaghetti strands. Leave squash in the shells to keep warm.
- Dish up a few scoops of squash and top with hot herbed leek sauce. Garnish with a few basil leaves or add your favorite grated cheese for a little extra treat!
I found many suggestions for how to cook the actual Spaghetti Squash and I have tried a few. My most successful attempt was cutting the squash in half and cooking it on the stove top with a few inches of water in a large pot with a lid. The cooking process only took 25 minutes, the squash was moist and practically falling right out of it’s shell. While the method I have used above is recommended by most of my cookbooks, it did take 1 hour and there were still parts of the squash that were not as evenly cooked through in comparison to my stove-top trial. Next time I might try adding a little water to the oven dish to assist in a more even heat. As for the sauce, it is quite lemony. That is okay by me, but others may want to omit the lemon juice and stick to just using the zest or visa-versa. Take it slow and taste it after you add the the zest. If you aren’t feeling up to creating the Leek sauce I would recommend some good old fashioned marinara. Treat the squash just as you would any pasta. I hope my adventures in spaghetti squash have broadened your horizons in squash this season. Leave a comment, tell me about your squash trials or other interesting Fall recipes!
Until next time —
Squash it up!