Spaghetti squash is one of those vegetables from childhood that I don’t remember very fondly. This dislike was probably due more to the fact that somewhere in my mind I expected it to taste like pasta, and the reality is that, well, it doesn’t. It might also stem from my childish aversion to squash in general, a malady I no longer suffer from.
As I grew older, I discovered that I really enjoyed squash. I frequently make zucchini and yellow squash sautéed in butter and garlic, and the thought of butternut squash soup makes me tingly. I even add butternut squash to my chili. (I know. I know. That ain’t Texas Red… but it’s my chili, and I don’t call it Texas Chili, so Nyah!)
As I walked through the produce section a week or so ago, I spied some spaghetti squash and thought “Why Not? I can make this!” And bought it I did.
I hit the recipe sites in search of a good recipe. I looked all over, in fact. The thing that struck me was that every recipe I saw for this venerable veggie was simply some pasta substitute, generally in the tomato or Alfredo category. As I said in the opening, I didn’t want to try to make the squash taste like pasta, in fear that my childhood dislike would come bubbling back up to the surface. With all of the recipes discarded save for the cooking of the squash itself, I wandered off into the kitchen to give it a go.
A quick look at the stores in the fridge gave me my direction. There in the crisper sat a container of baby spinach that I’d slated for a salad a few days earlier. That salad had never materialized and the spinach was beginning to look a bit limp. At that stage it was no longer salad material, but would make a great wilted green, and I was all set.
Here’s what I came up with.
- 1 medium sized spaghetti squash
- 6 cloves garlic, sliced
- 5 oz. organic baby spinach
- 1/4 cup chicken pan drippings or 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tbsp butter
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (for finish)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Poke the squash with a fork and place on center rack of oven in a baking dish for 1 hour. Remove and let cool until manageable.
- Heat a small sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add pan drippings or olive oil and butter, allow to heat thoroughly. Sauté garlic until browned, add spinach and wilt completely.
- Cut squash down the center. scoop out seeds and fibrous center strands. Remove stringy flesh and place on serving dish. top with garlic and spinach mixture, including liquid. top with Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste.
What I would have done differently had I thought of it at the time:
While I found this to be an amazingly good combination of flavors and a wonderful pairing with roast chicken, I found the squash to be a bit runny. I would suggest draining the squash a bit before topping it off to allow the garlic-butter sauce to coat the strands more evenly. Otherwise the squash was well worth the effort involved in its preparation.
The texture was creamy and rich with a wonderful mouth-feel from the sauce, and the squash itself simply melted on the tongue. I’ll be making a few more variants of this in the future.