By Sierra French Myerson
Ah, Southern Cali. We might not have the turning of the leaves or a first frost, but I swear, we do have Fall. The seasonal shift is ever so slight, but it is there. We get it right at the end of September.
Just as the days are getting shorter, the magical Santa Ana winds start up. They bring us that fresh air that the rest of the country so fondly relates to as fall. The gusts clear out the smog and bring us our version of a pure autumnal smell. Oh, I love that smell.
Then, we, Angelenos, get to babble on as though we are New Englanders…We talk about how stoked we are for fall…How we can’t wait for boots and sweaters...And, winter squash and roaring fires. The atmospheric aroma changes the days for us.
And, subsequently, it gets absurdly hot again. Then, Halloween arrives. Every Booby McGee (sorry Ms. Joplin) in the town is ret to go and it, rightfully, becomes “cold” for the night. Nipples at full mast. (I'm not going to lie, I’ve been known to do a little cleavage dance on All Hallow’s Eve, but for purely satirical and ironic reasons…I swear.) Cut to November, and it gets super hot again. Summer hot.
Perhaps we have a harder time transitioning between the seasons because the fall temperatures still lend themselves to peaches and snap peas, but that smell in the air is beckoning our taste buds towards the gourds and root vegetables that are taking over the farmer's tables at the markets? We’re trapped in a schizophrenic season / food transitional period. Stuck in the middle. While we're still seeing the red of the tomatoes, new shades of crimson, known as apples, are simultaneously resting at the vendor’s stands. Not quite ready for slow cooked stews and apple pies, we are primed to move on from hot weather produce delights.
Ultimately, the winds return bringing with them that natural air-perfume. Our Southern California hallmark of fall. Even if it is 80 something degrees outside, when the Santa Ana's blow back in for Thanksgiving, that “smell” always magically arrives just in time. And, we get our season.
Spaghetti Squash in Sage Browned Butter
*This is the perfect transitional winter squash dish for me. It makes me feel cozy and ready for the colder season, but it is still light enough to weather the heat that actually still exists outside. You can roast the squash whole, or cut it in half as I do. There is no right or wrong when making the decision. It mostly depends on whether you have a knife that is sharp enough to easily slice the spaghetti squash without hurting yourself.
What you’ll need:
1 Spaghetti Squash (3-4 lbs)
Olive oil for brushing (if cooking halved)
Course salt and freshly ground pepper
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
3 - 4 sage leaves, roughly chopped
A good grating of parmesan or pecorino cheese
Preheat oven to 400.
Carefully slice spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds. Brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place squash cut side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes or until fork tender. If roasting whole, prick squash in several places. Allow an extra 15 to 30 minutes cooking time until it is soft to the touch.
Remove squash from oven. Let cool for about 10 minutes until easy to handle. Meanwhile, heat a small heavy bottomed sauté pan over medium heat. Add the butter. Once butter is melting, add chopped sage leaves. Allow the butter to cook until it turns a rich brown and has a nutty aroma. Watch it carefully. Be sure not to burn the butter. Once done, set off of heat.
When squash has cooled, scrape the flesh out with a fork into long strands. Place in a bowl or platter. Toss with the browned butter. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with grated parmesan or pecorino.
Makes 4 - 6 servings as a side dish. Or, 2 - 3 as a vegetarian main dish.