Even though my parents had a huge vegetable garden when I was growing up, I have to confess that I am not particularly fond of vegetables. Let’s just say I’ve never completely recovered from some bad veggie experiences as a child. (Think of Veggie Tales were horror stories.)
Because of that, I haven’t been terribly open to trying new vegetables. I had never had spaghetti squash until just a few years ago. When I had it, I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was.
Here’s another confession: Even though it’s good, it’s never quite as good as I want it to be. I think I like the idea of it better than I actually like it.
It’s a little too sweet for a vegetable, in my opinion. So every time I use it in a dish, I’m trying to overcome the sweet with savory and it somehow doesn’t work out. It’s never bad, exactly . . . just not what I want it to be.
I think that all changed last Sunday.
For health reasons, we are trying to find healthier options to have at SND. So when we decided to do Superbowl snacks, I started trying to come up with something that wouldn’t blow everyone’s diets.
I had a spaghetti squash in the fridge that needed to be used, so I decided that I would try some spaghetti squash fritters. The great Google machine to the rescue…there are LOTS of recipes out there. Most of them have a lot more ingredients than I wanted to use. For example, I wanted to stay away from flour, if possible.
After looking at several recipes, I threw up my hands and decided to make up my own recipe and cross my fingers. Apparently, it came out ok, because they were all eaten and I had several people tell me how good they were. So a win this week!
My spaghetti squash was smallish . . . maybe a pound and a half. You have to cook the squash before you can use it. There are several different ways you can do that, but I chose the microwave so it wouldn’t take as long. (If you want to see all the different ways, just Google it. That’s how I learned to do it.)
Cut the squash in half lengthwise, avoiding the stem. (The stem is really tough and you don’t want to try to cut through it. You could cut yourself badly trying. So just don’t.) Scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff in the center cavity of both halves. (An ice cream scoop is great for this, but a regular spoon works okay, too.)
Put one half (the larger one, if your halves aren’t quite even. Mine never are.) in a microwave dish that isn’t much bigger than the half. You don’t want the squash to be able to roll around. I used a glass loaf pan.
Put about 1/2 cup of water in the cavity and put the other half back on top. Microwave on high for 10 minutes. You know it’s done when you can squish the top half and it feels flexible. (Do the squishing with an oven mitt on, so you don’t burn yourself.) The inside should be kind of clear and translucent when it is done. If it isn’t, cook it a little longer.
When the squash has finished cooking, take the top half off and let it cool for about 5 minutes. Drain the water out of the cavity on the bottom and continue to cool. (Ok, you don’t have to let it cool, but it is much easier to work with and you won’t burn your fingers if you let it cool first.)
Take a fork and scratch the fibers out of both halves and you are finished! Well, you are finished cooking the squash at least.
Note: You can do this ahead of time and store the squash fibers in the fridge for a day or two. You can also freeze the cooked squash and use it later.
The next step is really important for the fritters to be crisp. Spread the squash fibers onto a couple of layers of paper towels. You will probably have to do this in a couple of batches to keep the layer thin. Roll up the paper towels and squeeze it out over the sink to get all the moisture out that you can. (You will be shocked at how much water comes out of the towel!) Once you have it as dry as possible, unroll the towels and peel the squash fibers off.
Now you are finally ready to make the actual fritters.
Put the squash into a medium sized dish and add 1 egg, grated Parmesan cheese, and 1 tablespoon Mrs. Dash garlic and herb blend. I also added some 6 cheese Italian blend grated cheese, because I had it and it sounded good. You can add whatever kind of cheese you like.
Notice I didn’t give a measurement on how much cheese. The amount will vary based on how dry your squash is and just how big your squash was. The purpose of the Parmesan cheese is to absorb some of the moisture of the squash and egg. The end result of the mixture should be wet enough to hold together but dry enough to keep from completely coating your fingers when you are working with it.
Okay, okay, for all you folks who are completely hung up on exact measurements, start with about 2/3 cup of parmesan. Add more if you need to. And add it gradually, in case you don’t need it all.
(I also cheated and used a pre-made herb blend. Once again, I had it and it sounded good. I guess a real gourmet would season with fresh herbs, but hey, I’m a FAKE gourmet, remember?)
Drizzle enough olive oil in the bottom of a skillet to cover it well. I used a black skillet because I’m Southern and that’s what I had handy. Let the oil get hot before adding the squash.
I was making Superbowl snacks, so I only pinched enough squash off to make silver dollar sized fritters. You can make them whatever size you want. Form the squash into a flattened patty before putting it in the hot oil. (If you have to squish it down with a spatula, the squash will stick to the spatula and you’ll have a big mess and will probably burn your fingers trying to fix it. Just don’t do it.)
Let the patty brown on one side (about 2 minutes) and flip it. THEN you can squish it with a spatula, to make it thin and crispy. Brown on the second side and then remove from the oil and place on a paper towel to drain.
Now comes the fun part.
You can eat the fritters just like that and they are pretty awesome. Since I was going to a party, I wanted to dress them up a little. When I got there, I put the fritters on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and then I topped them with grated cheddar cheese and a slice of smoked sausage. Then I popped them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 5-7 minutes, just until the cheese was bubbly.
I forgot to take a picture until there were only a few sad-looking ones left on the sheet. (I let a few of them get a little too brown when I was frying them.) Of course, that didn’t seem to matter…even those were gone 5 minutes after I took this picture! Based on the reaction to them, I will definitely make these again. And I will post better pics then, I promise!
What kinds of things would you top the fritters with? I’m always open to new ideas!