There’s one thing about Mr. SGCC that drives me absolutely nuts. (Well, there’s actually more than one thing, but that’s a story for another day.) He suffers in silence. That is to say that, when he doesn’t like something, he usually just sucks it up and doesn’t say anything. This especially applies to food. I know this because over the past twenty something years, I have made and remade several dishes that he didn’t really like, yet he never said so – until maybe the tenth time I served it. Case in point: When we were first married, I used to cook a lot of spaghetti squash. I served it like pasta with tomato sauce, sautéed in butter, swimming in broth… You get the picture. I loved it. He didn’t. But, he never actually told me that he didn’t like spaghetti squash until years later, when it just kind of came up in conversation.
Imagine how awful I felt learning this little nugget of information after years of shoving pounds of spaghetti squash in his face! I had no idea!
“Why didn’t you ever say anything?” I asked incredulously.
“I don’t know. I guess I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.” was his response.
Admirable intentions. Poor execution.
So, when I found one of these big boys in my veggie basket from Suncoast Organics this week, I found myself in a quandary. Don’t you just love saying the word “quandary”? I do. Quandary. Quandary. Quandary. There, I think I’ve gotten it out of my system now.
Anyway, I didn’t want to serve it to “you-know-who” when I knew that he didn’t like it. Especially when he knew that I knew he didn’t like it. But, I certainly didn’t want to waste it either. After some deliberation, I decided to do the only thing I could do given the circumstances. I would try to disguise the squash by baking it in a casserole under tons of creamy Mornay sauce made with lots of butter and cheese. I mean, everybody loves rich, cheesy, buttery sauces, right? He’d probably never even know. Right?
And that, dear readers, is how this Spaghetti Squash Gratin came to be.
To make this gratin, you first have to cook the spaghetti squash. There are a couple of ways you can do it. You can steam or boil it, microwave it, although I’ve never tried that, or bake it in the oven. My method of choice is baking. While your squash is cooking, you’ll need to prepare the sauce. A Mornay sauce is simply a béchamel sauce amped up with shredded cheese, and is very easy to make.
Don’t forget the cheese!
Once your squash is cooked and your sauce is made, it’s time to put them all together.
One thing I should mention here, is that I also mixed some sautéed onions in with the squash before baking it. You don’t have to do this. But I love onions and thought that they would add a nice flavor to the dish – which they did.
The gratin was (Kat Flinn, please forgive me) absolutely delicious! The squash was soft, delicate and just the tiniest bit sweet. The sauce was voluptuous and velvety. And the crunchy topping added just the right amount of texture. It was a very successful dish that I plan to make again.
Oh, and Mr. SGCC did recognize the spaghetti squash, but he ate it anyway and said that he liked it. I guess I’ll just have to trust him on that one.
Spaghetti Squash Gratin
1 (3-pound) spaghetti squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt to taste
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1 medium sweet onion, finely sliced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/4 cup crème fraiche or sour cream
1 cup cup freshly grated Gruyere, divided
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 cup crushed herb stuffing mix or seasoned bread crumbs
Heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds. Brush flesh with 2 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place squash, cut sides down, on a baking sheet and roast until fork tender, about 45-50 minutes.
Remove squash from the oven and let sit at room temperature until cool enough to handle, about 30 minutes. Scrape out flesh with a fork to make long “spaghetti-like” strands. Reserve in a bowl and set aside.
While squash is roasting, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add sliced onions and sauté until soft and tender, about 6-8 minutes. Remove and add to squash.
Melt 2 more tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, whisking constantly 2 minutes. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture and stir until it comes to a boil. Boil, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, or until thickened. Remove from the heat and add 1 teaspoon of salt, pepper, nutmeg, crème fraiche, 1/2 cup of the Gruyere, and the Parmesan.
Pour about 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom of a medium sized baking dish. Place the squash mixture on top and then spread the rest of the sauce evenly over it. Combine the stuffing mix with the remaining Gruyere and sprinkle on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle over the top of the gratin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is browned. Serve hot or at room temperature.