Spaghetti Squash Fritters

November 6, 2012 § 5 Comments

I’ve tried being a vegan exactly two times. Well, actually, I tried eating vegan for a one-week time-span on two different occasions. And neither time did I make it the entire week.

When I lived in New York, I made it 5 or 6 days. My roommate and I were both vegetarian, and we decided to take the plunge together. Our main issues were baked goods, candy, and eventually, cheese. We would spend way too much time reading candy and chocolate bar labels, sadly coming to grips with the fact that many dark chocolates still have milk in them. We would pass our favorite scone place, and all we could get was a coffee without cream. We would pack our lunches for work, substituting soy yogurt for “regular” yogurt, tofu for cheese. It took a whole lot of planning and will-power every single one of those 5 days!

And this is what eventually broke us. Well, that, and a few drinks. After 5 (maybe 6?) days of being real-life vegans, we went out out and had a few drinks on a Saturday night, and then of course we got the late night munchies. And what sounds better for a late night snack than Mexican food?! Well, let me tell you, while vegetarian Mexican food can be delicious, vegan Mexican food is another story.

So, two cheese filled, sour-cream dolloped tacos later, that was that.

My second experiment in veganism occurred in L.A. Another veggie roommate and I similarly decided to attempt a week without any dairy. (I know it seems like I’m the common thread here, but I have no recollection of provoking these experiments). Things were going well for all of two days, until Nathan downed a bag of M&M’s, and a friend made me a dinner of spaghetti squash. Even if I had really been committed to my dairy free lifestyle, it would have been difficult to turn down that squash. I was in the midst of a 9am-9pm day of classes, and a friend so thoughtfully took it upon herself to deliver me a home-cooked meal on campus: farmers’ market squash slathered in pasta sauce and cheese. Who could turn down such a mouth-watering and thoughtful gesture in the middle of a long day??

Well, even though that dinner spoiled my halfhearted attempt at being vegan – and I really wasn’t very broken-up about that – it introduced me to the joys of spaghetti squash. I still enjoy this pasta-themed preparation every fall, but I was really happy to come across a fritter variation. It adds another simple and satisfying vegetarian – not vegan – option to my go-to recipes.

Spaghetti Squash Fritters (adapted from Mollie Katzen’s wonderful book The Vegetable Dishes I Can’t Live Without)

This is a very versatile dish. I most recently had it as an appetizer, but it would also be wonderful for breakfast, lunch, or a light dinner.

Ingredients

  • 1 large spaghetti Squash (4 lbs)
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced (approximately 1 1/2 cups diced)
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (generous measure)
  • unsalted butter for the pan

Toppings

  • Sour cream
  • Chives, minced
  • Roasted squash seeds, reserved from squash, instructions below (requires canola oil, paprika and salt)
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Heat oven to 350ºF. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds, and reserve for later use. Lightly oil a baking sheet, and bake the squash halves face-down for approximately 30 minutes. The squash should not be too soft, but you should be able to pierce the skin with a fork. Remove from oven, and set aside to cool.

While the squash is baking, place a skillet over medium-low heat, and add 1 tablespoon canola oil. Add diced onion and garlic, and cook until softened, approximately 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Once the squash has cooled to room temperature, or is at least cool enough to handle, use a spoon to remove flesh. I work side-to-side width-wise, to preserve the spaghetti stands. Place flesh in a strainer or colander. Once you have removed all the flesh, use your hands to squeeze juice from the flesh. When you first begin doing this, it may seem like there isn’t much juice, but stick with it. After a few squeezes you will begin to see some juice, and by the end, I removed more than 1 1/2 cups of juice, leaving me approximately 3 cups of squash flesh.

Place squash flesh in a medium bowl, and use a fork to separate spaghetti strands from any remaining clumps. Add flour, and stir well to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs with salt and cooked onions and garlic. Add egg mixture to squash mixture, and stir to combine.

Place a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add enough butter to coat the bottom of the skillet, and let it warm for 1-2 minutes. Once the pan surface is warm, use a 1/4 cup measuring cup with a handle to scoop batter into skillet. Use the back of the scoop or your spatula to gently flatten the fritters slightly. You can cook several fritters at a time, but leave enough room that you can flip them easily

Cook fritters for approximately 8 minutes on each side until they are golden brown on each side, flipping between sides a few times to make sure fritters aren’t burning. This takes a while, but the crispy fritter outside is worth it!

Heat oven to 200ºF, and place cooked fritters on a dish in the oven to keep them warm while you continue cooking additional batches.

Serve fritters hot or warm, with a dollop of sour cream, chives, roasted squash seeds, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Can your breakfast/lunch/dinner guests guess what these pancakes are made from? Mine couldn’t, but they ate every single pancake I put in front of them!

To Prepare Squash Seeds:

I prepared my seeds for baking while the squash was in the oven, and baked them while the squash was cooling. Preheat oven to 300ºF. Separate the squash seeds from the pulp – don’t worry if a bit of flesh remains on the seeds. Toss seeds with 1 teaspoon canola oil, a dash of paprika and a dash of salt. Bake seeds, stirring occasionally, for 45-50 until they are lightly browned and crispy. Remove from oven and set aside.

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