Monday, September 16, 2013

Tomato-Bacon Yellow Squash "Pasta"

This recipe was so beyond-expectations delicious that I almost made it two weeks in a row!

At first, I wasn't sure how it would turn out. When I conceptualized this recipe, I wanted to make it with spaghetti squash. But I wasn't willing to wait a few more weeks for it to come back in season. Luckily for me (and CaveBoy) there was a huge pile of yellow squash at Trader Joe's, and I have a julienne peeler. Dinner was saved!

Now that I've experimented a little bit, I think I prefer the yellow squash. Spaghetti squash can hold a lot of water, which works just fine when combined with a red sauce (or made into a soup). The extra water boils off when I re-heat my portion each night, and prevents the whole dish from becoming dry.

BUT for an oil-based sauce, too much moisture could be catastrophic. Roasting the squash-noodles (instead of steaming or boiling them) kept them from becoming soggy or mushy and helped them stand-up to the tomatoes and bacon.

Now, I can't wait to try my hand at a yellow squash-noodle carbonara (dairy free, of course).

Tomato-Bacon Yellow Squash "Pasta"

It's a pretty substantial side dish.
Serve with something simple and light like grilled chicken.


Ingredients

8 medium-large yellow squash
1 lb cherry tomatoes, halved
1 lb thick-cut bacon, diced
1 red onion, finely diced
5 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
4 oz arugula
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Salt and pepper

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Julienne the yellow squash into the longest squash-noodles possible (I use a julienne peeler in long motions covering the full length of the squash). Once the narrow neck becomes too thin to continue julienning, continue peeling the thicker part of the squash until you hit the seeds (You will have noodles of different lengths, but they will still cook evenly. And this way you don't waste any food).

In a large bowl combine squash-noodles and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Mix with your hands to ensure even coverage. Use 1 tablespoon olive oil to grease a large baking sheet. Distribute squash-noodles onto baking sheet in an even layer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Stir and redistribute squash into an even layer. Return to oven and bake for 15 minutes. You want the squash to be cooked, but not mushy. Remove from oven and set aside.

While the squash-noodles cook, add bacon to a large skillet and render out the fat. Once the bacon is fully-cooked, remove from pan a set aside. Pour off 3/4 of the bacon grease. Return pan to heat and add onion. Cook until onion begins to caramelize. Add garlic and cook until it starts to brown.

Pour in the white wine and stir with a wooden spoon. Scrape the bottom of the pan with the wooden spoon to deglaze. Add the chicken stock and cherry tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes are warmed through. Season with basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Return cooked bacon to the pan. Add squash-noodles and toss with tongs to ensure everything is evenly distributed. Remove squash-pasta mixture from pan.

Quickly, while the pan is still hot, add arugula and a pinch of salt. Toss arugula with tongs until it is heated and just begins to wilt. Remove from pan. Serve squash-pasta in large bowls with arugula on top. Makes 6 servings (I set out to make 8 servings, but it didn't last that long. It was just too delicious!).




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