Fall is in the air, summer is coming to an end, and for the upper half of the world, this is a time to get ready to hunker down and hibernate. For those of us living in ski towns, this is when the excitement of getting ready for the snow tingles our very core. The turning of those leaves means that another season on the slopes is just around the corner!
Last week, I took my family for a morning hike and then we claimed one of the outdoor picnic tables in the sun at Rumble’s Bistro & Bar to share a meal together. This was a special treat, not only because of the gorgeous day, but also because I know how talented Chef Vanessa is and I was eager to try her fall menu.
Chef Vanessa is a good cook, so I knew that I could rely on whatever we ordered to please the palate. But I have to tell you that what happened next is a sight that I have rarely seen outside of my own kitchen. As I looked across the table, I noticed my wife “food dancing” as she was taking bites of the dish in front of her. “Food dancing” is a common symptom amongst the culinary afficionados, which explains those rare moments when the combination of flavors, texture and warmth are so insanely on point that it makes you dance with happiness. So of course I had to slide her plate over to my side of the table to see what the fuss was all about.
Chef Vanessa has created a Gnocchi dish that is the essence of autumn. Its colors rival the best fall foliage to be found in the Valley and its flavor is rich and earthy. In a nutshell, it’s delicious and was absolutely perfect with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.
Now, I am not going to try and recreate Chef Vanessa’s dish. You will just have to head up to Rumble’s this weekend and try it for yourself. But I was so inspired by her culinary brilliance, that I wanted to create my own “Autumn on a Plate” recipe incorporating colors, textures and flavors as she did.
I dedicate this recipe to those of you who are trying to find a substitute for the almighty pasta. And yes, this will still get the wholesome feeling of a family style meal. Now get out and enjoy the beautiful weather this weekend!
Spaghetti Squash “Al Fresca” aka Autumn on a Plate
1 three-pound spaghetti Squash
tablespoons of olive oil
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
3 freshly minced garlic cloves
1 small shallot (1/4 of a yellow onion if you prefer)
½ a lemon squeeze
1 dozen finely cut basil leaves
1 cup of cherry tomato halves
½ cup of dry white wine
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 pound of large size thawed shrimp, skin off and deveined
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
Using a long sharp knife, cut the squash in half. Carefully remove and discard the interior (seeds and stringy flesh). Place both halves of the squash, outside skin down on a baking sheet, preferably lined with parchment paper. Coat the surface of the squash with the olive oil and sprinkle salt & pepper throughout.
Place in the oven and let it roast for 45 mins. Once the squash is ready, remove from oven and let it rest for 10 mins while you prepare the rest of the dish.
Chop your garlic, shallots, tomatoes and basil. In a large sauce or frying pan, add 2 tablespoons of butter, the garlic and the shallots and cook over medium-high heat. Once the shallot starts to sweat, add the wine and lemon juice and cook for 10 mins. Add shrimp and cook until they are curled up and opaque. Then, add the remainder of the butter, tomatoes and basil and mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low and partially cover the pan while you scrape the inside of the squash until you reach the skin. Add the scraped squash to your sauce and serve!