April 18, 2015 | Posted by Sally Jackson
What’s pale yellow, great with Bolognese, and perfect for twirling around a fork? Not pasta, but one of my favorite winter ingredients: spaghetti squash.
Spaghetti squash has a sweet, mild flavor that is more delicate than other hard squashes like acorn or butternut. Even more than its flavor, its texture is what sets it apart from the rest of the gourd group. It doesn’t look like much when you cut it open raw, but when cooked, the flesh of spaghetti squash breaks apart into thin strands that resemble -- you guessed it -- spaghetti. A lot of people actually serve it as a low-carb, low-calorie spaghetti substitute, topped with a hearty Bolognese, mixed with pesto, or any way spaghetti is prepared. Spaghetti squash is still squash…but as long as you aren’t expecting it to taste and feel exactly like spaghetti (it’s actually closer to capellini, or angel hair), I think you’ll be pretty pleased.
Here’s the thing, though: spaghetti squash is INCREDIBLY hard-skinned. Cutting it in half takes some serious muscle -- not to mention one big, super sharp knife. Some people skip the battle and bake the whole thing in the oven, cutting it and removing the seeds once it’s fully cooked. But I like to get some color on the flesh, and roasting the cut sides gives it great flavor. So here’s a little tip: pop the whole squash in the microwave for a few minutes and then cut it – you’ll see that you can actually get your knife through it with one pass, and you’ll shave a few minutes off of your total roasting time.
Want to see for yourself? Check out the video for this tip and more.
My three year old will eat this like he does his favorite pasta, with a bit of butter and lots of grated parmesan cheese. I prefer a slightly more grown-up version of that: I toast minced shallots in that butter and fold in a healthy portion of chopped herbs along with the cheese. The herbs (I particularly like a blend of parsley, cilantro, chives and dill) add a good punch of fresh flavor without overpowering the mild squash. It’s simple and delicious, and you can find the recipe here!