Jane Grey Battle’s Shrimp and “Spaghetti”
I haven’t been entirely forthcoming with you, and I’ve been saving this post for very special reason. There is actually a kind-of-a-big-deal chef in our extended family and we just finished up a family reunion where we got to see her.
Jane Grey Battle, or just Grey to family and friends, is 11 years old but already won a trip to the White House last year for her Veggie Spaghetti and Alabama Gulf Shrimp recipe, representing the state of Alabama. Our far more eloquent food-and-travel-writer friend Ann Mah already has an in-depth interview with Grey regarding this recipe, her trip to the White House, and her approach to food in general, so you can visit her post for more insight. We’ll just stick with a picture of Grey with Willa & Phoebe and a hope that you give her healthy take on “spaghetti” and sauce a shot.
Willa and Phoebe did surprisingly well with this dish—to be honest I didn’t have a lot of faith when we sat down to dinner. But a little prodding and excitement-building for the reunion put us over the hump, and the girls were thrilled to tell Grey how they ate her dinner when they finally got to see her. Grey tells us she’s been spending this summer helping to plan and cook the family dinners, so with any luck we’ll have an original guest post from her in the near future!
- 1 large spaghetti squash, sliced in half and seeds removed
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, medium dice
- 6 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 chiles de árbol, finely crushed
- 1 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes, preferably San Marzano DOP
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 bunch Lacinato kale, tough stems removed and then roughly chopped
- 1-1/2 lbs. medium-large shrimp, peeled and cleaned
- 1 oz. basil, chiffonade
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. After cleaving the squash in half and removing the seeds, douse each half with a bit of water and place cut-side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover the baking sheet with aluminum foil and cook in the oven for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted through the squash can easily pierce it. Remove from oven to cool.
- While the squash is cooking, heat your olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, around five minutes. Add the garlic and crushed chiles and cook for two minutes more. Next add the tomatoes, crushing each by hand as you add them to the pan. Add the salt and stir. Reduce heat to medium-low and allow this to simmer for 15 minutes so that it thickens up a bit.
- Once the squash has cooled enough to handle, scrape out the flesh into bowl with a fork (a serving fork works especially well). The flesh should release in spaghetti-like strands. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add the kale and stir. Allow the kale to cook for a few minutes so that it begins to wilt, then add your shrimp. Return to a simmer and allow the shrimp to cook through, around 5 more minutes once you've reached the simmer again. Finish by adding the basil, and serve over the spaghetti squash,
- Grey has a quick-method of cooking the squash in a microwave (see her original recipe). Our microwave is a mini and can't fit a spaghetti squash, so I've reverted to old-school conventional oven method here.
- Grey also uses fresh tomatoes in her recipe. We'll probably try this once we hit high tomato season here, but I've also found that the girls are so far more receptive to canned tomatoes for their tomato sauce.
- I reduced the amount of chiles from the original recipe—I think the southern part of the family must like their sauce with more spice than we can handle! For us, crushing the chiles and reducing the amount added just enough heat, and the semi-smokey flavor of the árbol chiles came through fine.