I am a reformed squashophobe. There, I said it. I've worked long and hard to overcome my aversion to all things 'squash'. Even the word sounds unappealing doesn't it? Say, "squash". Now, say "cake". Which word makes you happy?
As a child, I was not a big fan of any variety of squash, especially if my mom had anything to do with it. In our house, squash had to be cooked until it no longer held its form, there was no texture to speak of, and one never really knew what the original flavor had been. The only word that comes to mind is: slimy (and blechk!!). To this day, the very thought of my mom's calabacitas still brings on an involuntary shiver. The avoidance of squash is the number three reason I became the family cook.....
Today, I can say I have a better respect for this summer and fall vegetable and I have grown to, (ahem), love it. But I have to confess, each time I am faced with a squash recipe, I approach it the way someone would, when they are jumping off a 10 meter platform into a pool. I have to psych myself up for it and then I am completely surprised I lived through the experience.
Last year at this time, I offered a double squash recipe to LFM shoppers and the farmer's sold out of the ingredients. I was blown away by your reactions to this dish and I thought I would post it again this year. Clearly, my mom never cooked for you or this would have been a much harder sell.
A little history: Bohemienne is the poor southern cousin to Ratatouille. It's simple in composition and easier to make (and less slimy). It consists of: eggplant, tomatoes, onion, garlic, basil, thyme. That's it. Hands down, I prefer this recipe to ratatouille. It makes a really rich vegetarian sauce that can be used in a dozen applications: on pasta, as a topping for Bruschetta, or as a side dish with fish or poultry.
Today, I used it as a topping for roasted spaghetti squash and finished it with some nice thin slices of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Roasted Bohemienne w/ Spaghetti Squash
- 2 small- medium eggplants cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 6 small- medium ripe tomatoes
- 4 Tbl Extra Virgin Olive oil
- 1 medium red or yellow onion, cut to 1/2-inch dice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 2 stems fresh basil leaves gently torn.
- Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- 1 large spaghetti squash cut in half and seeds removed
- Fresh butter or additional Olive oil
- 2 oz. shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano
Preheat your oven to 375° AND Put a 4-quart pot of water on to boil.
Bohemienne: If using smaller eggplants or ones from you local Farmer's Market, there is no need to salt your vegetable. If the eggplant is large and the seeds are dark (it's older and not as fresh), lightly salt the pieces and allow to rest for 15- 20 minutes, rinse, dry and begin the recipe.
With a paring knife, remove the core of each tomato, and make a 1-inch “x” on the bottom of each. Gently place the tomatoes into the pot of boiling water for 1 minute. Remove and place them in bowl with ice water. Beginning at the “x”, remove and discard the skins from the tomatoes. Cut the tomatoes into quarters, and squeeze out the seeds. Chop the tomatoes into 1/2 chunks, and set aside. ( you may substitute a large can of GOOD Italian tomatoes.)
Using an oven safe casserole pan, heat on stovetop to a medium temperature, add oil, then onions and cook for 5-6 minutes.
Next add eggplant, and cook for 10 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, and bay leaf. Cook for 2 additional minutes and then add chopped tomatoes. Place casserole in the oven on the bottom rack and cook for 30- 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, smashing vegetables as they cook.
Remove from oven when vegetables are soft and tender, remove thyme and bay leaf. Add basil and adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Spaghetti Squash: Place Squash on a rimmed sheet pan lined with parchment or foil, cut side down, pour 1/2 cup of water around the squash. The Squash goes into the oven after the Bohemienne has been cooking at least 20 minutes. Begin to test Squash for doneness after 20-25 minutes, by simply inserting a paring knife into the flesh. If the knife slides in and out without any resistance, your squash is done.To Serve: Using a fork gently begin to pull the flesh of each squash way from the skin, (notice it looks like spaghetti) add a few pats of butter or olive oil, a pinch or two of salt and some fresh pepper. Divide the seasoned squash onto warm plates, top with hot Bohemienne, Parmesan and a few more leaves of basil. Enjoy the season where the end of summer meets the beginning of fall.
See you at the Market!
Chef Deb T