It’s not just Arwen that can’t resist buying odd seeds– I am also subject to such urges and some time last year I indulged myself and bought a packet of spaghetti vegetable seeds. I didn’t get around to planting them until early this year though, so this post has been a long time coming! They started out looking much like any other squash seedling, which since I had neglected to mark my seed trays led to some speculation as to what they were. As they grew we suspected zucchini, watermelon and mystery vegetable before we finally worked out what they were. They grew in a rambling sort of way, much like a pumpkin, so you need plenty of space to grow one. One even grew up the pool fence and ripened a fruit in mid air! This post is the first one we’ve eaten (which just happens to be the mid air fruit) so there’s another two to come.
The internet had a variety of conflicting opinions about its flavour, from completely bland and tasteless to quite pleasant on its own. I decided that since I had no idea what it was going to taste like that I would make a basic tomato sauce and grate some cheeses and try different things as I went. To cook it you can either boil it whole or in pieces, or bake, again whole or in pieces. I went with the bake method since it has the advantage of being faster and also meant I could get some seeds out for replanting. I carved it in half and scooped out the seeds, then threw it on a baking tray without any oil at 190C, then put it on to bake for half an hour. Because I had to wait for people to arrive it ended up being in there about 45 mins which was a bit too long, I think, because when I went to scoop the flesh out it was REALLY soft and broke really easy, so I didn’t get long strings of spaghetti. I suspect my unco efforts at scraping them out didn’t help either- I got better at it with practice. I did get short noodly things though, which was super cool! It was definitely much more spaghetti like than I expected- even the chunks I didn’t break up with a fork came apart in strands in your mouth. The only problem was the amount, there was really only enough for two people and we had three. With a salad on the side and a big dessert lined up we got by, but I would recommend having more- about half a squash per person looked reasonable.
I made the sauce out of a tin of chopped tomatoes, a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste, 4 cloves of garlic and generous sprinklings of home grown basil and oregano. I also ended up chopping up some olives and fetta, and grated cheddar and parmesan cheese for toppings. I started by tasting the vegetable by itself, and it was pleasantly nutty and squash-y. Adding a little cheddar was nice, a little parmesan even nicer, and finally the tomato sauce with some fetta and olives sprinkled in. I would be happy eating it any of those ways. I myself went pretty light-on with the sauce, since I thought the vegetable’s own flavour was very nice and I didn’t want to overwhelm it, but my fellow diners all went for different methods. The Male of the Species smothered his in sauce from the get-go and loved it that way, so there you go! All in all, I was very impressed by this vegetable- it was super easy to grow, delicious to eat, and had a massive niftyness factor in terms of the noodles. Definitely growing it again next year!