It is the first day of fall, and the only redeeming quality for me is that gorgeous pumpkins, squashes and gourds start showing up regularly in the CSA. Spaghetti squash’s sweet delicate flesh, in particular, lends itself to all sorts of ‘pasta’ dishes without any of the heavy carb load. Since I found myself the proud owner of one last week, I was thinking about what to create. I was fantasizing about my trip to Tuscany a couple years ago, when my mind was completely blown by the simplicity of garden fresh marinara. If you’ve ever had it, you can never have a jar off the shelves again. So many spices and thickeners completely take away from that delicate off the vine perfection that is a ripe late summer tomato. In Italy, the tomato shines with very few ingredients, and the marinara spooned over fresh pasta is just *chef’s kiss*. Today I’m using spaghetti squash, but the essence of the Tuscan classic is all there. I hope it transforms your dinner into a warm evening dining alfresco on a small cobblestone path in the heart of Italy. It certainly did for me.
Spaghetti Squash Marinara with Braised Beef
2 lbs. Tomatoes, roughly chopped (I love the Rainshadow heirloom varietals)
1 bulb garlic cloves, minced (I mean, you can do less, but why?)
1 tsp chili flake (optional)
Large handful of fresh oregano leaves
⅓ cup good olive oil
Salted to taste
1 lb stew meat, trimmed and cut bite size (optional)
1 large spaghetti squash
Fresh basil leaves for garnish
Parmigiano Reggiano to finish (optional)
In a slow cooker, add trimmed stew meat, cover with water, lightly salt, and cook for ~3-4 hours.
Heat oven to 375. Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds.
Cook ~50 minutes. Shred out the flesh with a fork to look like pasta.
In a large skillet, add garlic and some of the olive oil and brown on med high heat.
Add tomatoes, chili flake and oregano, simmer on low for 15 minutes.
Salt to taste and add olive oil (and slow cooked meat if you chose to use it). Simmer an additional 5-10 minutes on low until all flavors are perfectly melded.
Plate the spaghetti squash and squeeze a little lemon juice onto it. Scoop on the marinara and garnish with basil and parmigiano reggiano