Monday, April 1, 2013

Keep It Real: Spaghetti Squash in Pesto Cream with Pan-Fried Scallops

As a rule, fakes suck. Fake labels? Tacky. Faking a love for sports, opera or books to impress? Even tackier. And sucking up to further a secret agenda? Well, that's just sad. It's also exhausting. Seems to me that it would be easier to just be who we are. Besides, we'd be so much more fabulous at being ourselves than trying to be a pale imitation of someone else.

The same applies to food. My unfortunate addiction to diet soda notwithstanding, I think fake and wannabe foods generally suck and should be avoided. I' like yoghurt but not when it tries to pass itself off as ice cream.  Fat-free cheese is an abomination. And don't even get me started on vegetarian restaurants that feature entrees in quotes, e.g.,"beef" stroganoff or "chicken" a la king.

Spaghetti squash, however, is a notable exception. This poor misunderstood squash never claimed to be pasta. It's not its fault that its insides just happen to scrape up into luscious, spaghetti-like strands that clock in at roughly a fifth of the calories of regular pasta.

Spaghetti squash is what it is and is perfectly happy to be what it is. And having never seen one in Manila before, I was perfectly happy to take one home when I spotted it at Metro Supermarket.

Preparing this cute little pretender is ridiculously easy. You slice the squash in half, roast it, and then scrape the insides with a fork until all you have left are sad, empty squash shells and a great big heaping mound of pseudo-spaghetti. After that, the possibilities are endless.

Sad, empty shells. :(
I'm feeling much better now. 
As for me, I heated some cream, added some pesto, tossed that with the spaghetti squash and then topped with some sautéed scallops and a generous dusting of Parmigiano.

It may have been "fake" pasta, but it was real food. And it was most definitely real good.

Spaghetti Squash in Pesto Cream with Sautéed Scallops
Serves 4

1 spaghetti squash, halved
Olive oil for brushing
1 pound/500 grams sea scallops
1 tablespoon neutral oil (grapeseed or canola) for sautéing
Cream, 3/4 cup
Prepared basil pesto, 1 cup
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
Pimenton pepper or paprika, to taste (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Brush both squash halves with olive oil, and then season with salt and pepper.
2. Roast squash for around 50 minutes or until done. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes.
3. When cool enough to handle, take a fork and scrape the insides of the squash until the shells are empty. Reserve squash strands.
4. Dry scallops with a paper towel and then season with salt, pepper and pimenton, if using.
5. Heat oil in a skillet over a high flame until hot and then sauté scallops for about 1-2 minutes per side. Set aside.
6. Heat cream in a skillet over a medium-high flame until it starts to bubble, then add pesto and stir.
7. Add spaghetti squash and toss in the pesto-cream mixture. Turn off heat, then add scallops and toss again.
8. Add salt and pepper to taste and plate. Pass around a hunk of Parmesan and a grater when serving.


  1. I know what you mean about fakes...why bother?? I cannot even beging to imagine the energy I would need to fake loving a sport...hahaha!!

    I have never tried spaghetti squash, though I've heard about it and seen it once in a how does it taste? Is it like regular squash?

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  3. Joey, how've you been?? Spaghetti squash is pretty good, as long as you don't expect it to taste too much like pasta OR squash. :) It doesn't have that sweet, distinctive squash taste. It's very subtle, bland even, which is why people like to use it as a pasta substitute. It pretty much takes on the flavor of whatever sauce you use it with. But it does have a bit of a veggie crunch, like zucchini, so people expecting the starchiness of pasta are bound to be disappointed. Does that make sense? If you're curious, I found mine at our favorite supermarket, Metro! It's also kinda fun to watch it turn into spaghetti. But I don't get out much. ;)

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