Thursday, December 2, 2010

Spaghetti Squash with Bechamel

Writing and cooking from: Pittsburgh, PA
My first bechamel sauce
I’ve been tackling my niche pumpkin/spaghetti squash slowly. All the scooped out innards filled my 3-quart mixing bowl so if you have any recipes for spaghetti squash, by all means, share them in the comments!! I froze a bunch of it but still have quite a bit left.

Spaghetti squash, as I mentioned in my previous post, is one of my favorite vegetables. I enjoy using it as a pasta replacement. My brother makes a good spaghetti squash dish with tomato sauce that sounds appealing on a cool day like today.

Also appealing is squash with béchamel sauce. Béchamel is one of the five mother sauces of French cuisine. The others are sauce veloute, tomato sauce, brown sauce, and (another personal favorite) hollandaise sauce. Each of these sauces can be served from the basic recipe but may also be used as a base for other sauces. Béchamel, for instance, is a base for many cheese sauces.

Mastering these five sauces is essential to the repertoire of a seasoned cook or chef. I’m pleased at how well the béchamel for this recipe turned out, I was quite worried about burning the roux, but the art of paying attention served well and my roux, the essential thickening agent for béchamel, turned out rather well.

As for the other sauces, I make a good tomato sauce, but I’ve never attempted a traditional veloute or brown sauce. My mom has taught me how to make good hollandaise but I have yet to be able to replicate one without her supervision (I have the same issue with pie crusts…) Perhaps a remedial lesson when I’m home for the holidays is in order…

But back to the matter at hand, béchamel and spaghetti squash. This was delicious! At first, I used just a little bit of the béchamel and had a light side dish. But then I had a whim to add a bit more béchamel…it’s such a wonderful sauce, rich and creamy, how could I resist? It turned out to be a delightful decision that left me with a bowl full of spaghetti squash strands and sauce that were as creamy and comforting as a bowl of macaroni and cheese. Does a meal get much better than that?

I don’t think so. Here’s what to do:

Spaghetti Squash with Béchamel

Cook spaghetti squash ahead of time in preferred manner (bake, boil, microwave, slow cook…options abound and directions are available in most basic cookbooks as well as online). It varies depending on the size of the squash, also.

Béchamel Sauce

2 T butter
2 T flour
dash salt
dash pepper
fresh grated nutmeg
1 cup milk (room temperature or slightly warmed)

Set out all ingredients before turning on the stove. It’s essential to have everything at hand. Mix the flour and spices in a small bowl and set it by the stove. Measure the milk. And then begin…
Melt butter over low to medium heat. When butter has just melted, (before it burns!) add the flour and spice mixture. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes until the roux is a nice golden color. Add milk a little at a time, stirring constantly, making sure the roux incorporates completely into the milk. Bring slowly to a boil and cook until sauce thickens. When sauce has reached desired thickness remove from heat. Makes about 1 cup of sauce.

Serve immediately over warm spaghetti squash.

Where my ingredients are from:

I’m adding this new section to each post so that you know where my ingredients are coming from, what I can find locally and what I haven’t found locally just yet. None of these places give me any freebies or kickbacks. Everything on this blog is what I cook and eat for myself.

So, the ingredients:

Spaghetti squash – Actually a niche pumpkin from Pucker Brush Farm, Shelocta, PA (50 miles from PGH)
Butter – Horizon brand, not local but Organic and American made
Flour – generic, neither local nor organic
Salt – generic, neither local nor organic
Pepper – generic, neither local nor organic
Nutmeg – Not sure…Mom gave me a few cloves from the stash in her spice cabinet
Milk – Turner’s Dairy, Penn Hills, PA (10 miles from PGH)

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