I am embarrassed to admit that I have never used spaghetti squash before it showed up in my CSA box. It is very unfortunate because I find the whole concept of vegetable spaghetti strands extremely exciting. And there really isn't an easier way to prepare winter squash (other than maybe roasted delicata squash). Spaghetti squash contains folic acid, potassium, vitamin A and beta carotene.
Personally I don't have a taste for winter squash recipes with brown sugar, cinnamon or apple. I like to contrast the subtle sweetness of winter squash with bold, tangy and spicy flavors like red cayenne pepper and lemon, ginger and thyme, and cumin and garlic.
I found spaghetti squash to be pretty bland on its own, especially compared to other winter squash varieties like butternut squash or kabocha squash. But when treated like spaghetti and tossed with garlic and fresh herbs, spaghetti squash takes on a whole new personality!
Carefully halve the spaghetti squash using a large sharp knife. It takes a bit of effort, as the squash is hard. Then place halves on an oiled baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes (for al dente spaghetti, up to 45 min for softer strands) until can easily pierce skin with a paring knife. Let cool slightly and then scrape inside crosswise with a fork to pull spaghetti strands away from the skin. Shout with glee that there is spaghetti growing inside and transfer to serving bowl.
The dish comes together even quicker if you microwave the squash instead. Carefully pierce the skin of the spaghetti squash in several places. Microwave for 10-12 minutes and let cool slightly before handling. Halve the squash and use a fork to scrape out the inside.
You could, of course, just toss the spaghetti squash with marinara sauce. Or stir fry it with veggies. I opted to toss it with garlic and crushed red pepper infused olive oil, fresh herbs, toasted pine nuts and finely grated parmesan. Either way, it is a fabulous pasta substitute!
Spaghetti squash with herbs (baked or microwaved)
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs like basil, oregano, thyme
optional 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
Preheat oven to 375. Halve squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Coat a baking sheet with olive oil and lay each half, flesh side down on sheet. Bake 40 minutes until can easily pierce skin with a paring knife. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
Alternatively, you can microwave the squash in less time. Carefully pierce the skin of the spaghetti squash in several places. Microwave for 10-12 minutes and let cool slightly before handling. Carefully halve the squash.
Scrape inside crosswise with a fork to pull spaghetti strands away from shell (It is pretty awesome). Place strands in a serving bowl.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil, add minced garlic and crushed red pepper, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Do not brown. Stir in squash strands and season with salt and pepper. Toss until infused with garlic chili oil and heated through, about 4 minutes. Remove and transfer to a serving dish. Top with pine nuts if using, garnish with fresh herbs and top with finely grated parmesan. Serve immediately.