Look, No Carbs!

Please don't misunderstand.  I'm not sure I could go a week without pasta - nor would I see the point in it.  Very few things are as wonderful as a bowl of simply garnished freshly made pappardalle noodles...maybe with mushrooms, a light butter sauce, grated parm...anyway...  But this receipe makes me at least consider the possibility of eating less pasta. Also, completely irrelevant of this, L just got Minibar reservations for my birthday!  The NYC plans didn't work, but I am over the moon excited about this! Easily the most coveted reservations in DC, this is Jose Andres' tasting table.  They have 8 seats, and we have been trying for at least 3 years to get reservations.  You literally need to call one month in advance at exactly 10am.  We have tried leap days, the short or extra days in a month, you name it.  Chef trained under Ferran Adria, who's El Bulli in Spain (closing!) has long been considered the best restaurant in the world. Also, apart from the fancy pedigree, Chef is on the board of my favorite organization, DC Central Kitchen (and even when I worked there I couldn't get a reservation!!), and is just a wonderful gregarious guy.

Sorry, I can't help myself.  Now back to dinner for this evening.  I'll update with photos as I cook this tonight!

Spaghetti Squash Gratin

serves 4 as a main course or 8 as a side

2 small or one large spaghetti squash (about 4 ½ - 5 pounds total)* 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 1 ¾ cups jarred marinara sauce, best quality (such as Rao’s) salt ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1½ teaspoons fresh thyme, or ½ teaspoon dried 1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend, best quality (typically Fontina, Asiago and Parmesan) 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

* Select spaghetti squash that feel heavy for their size. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Fill a large pot with about 2 inches of water and bring to a simmer. Place spaghetti squash in pot, cover with lid and simmer, turning once, for about 30 -40 minutes, or until squash is tender and easily pierced with a fork. Let cool.

Cut squash in half and remove seeds. Use a spoon to scoop out flesh, being careful not to shred the strands. (It is best to go from side to side, rather than lengthwise.) Place strands in a large bowl.

Add extra virgin olive oil, marinara sauce, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and thyme to bowl and toss gently until squash is well coated with sauce. Taste and add more salt if necessary. (I usually add quite a bit more but salt to your own taste.)

Transfer mixture to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle grated cheese evenly over top. Combine melted butter with panko and sprinkle evenly over top of cheese. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until top is golden. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.