Ahhh, the crisp cool weather of fall…I don’t know about you, but the end of the summer heat (and sunblock and chlorine and sand!) comes as quite a relief for me, and I welcome the leaves changing color and the cooler weather finally arriving. I am also excited about fall produce. Attempting to eat seasonally sometimes means overloading on the same foods while they’re available, which makes the new crop ever more exciting. And as much as I have enjoyed tomatoes, zucchini, berries, and all of the other wonderful summer produce, I am not complaining about the arrival of apples and winter squash to mix things up a bit!
I have to admit I’m relatively new to winter squash. It’s not a category of vegetable I grew up eating at all (except for possibly canned pumpkin in various forms), so most of what I know is based on my own research and experimentation (like this butternut squash soup!). But one kind of squash I’ve been pretty excited to discover is spaghetti squash. Maybe you’ve heard of this type – when it’s cooked, you can shred the flesh and it looks just like spaghetti!
Some people will tell you that you can replace pasta with spaghetti squash without being able to tell the difference, but as a hardcore pasta lover, I will tell you that they are definitely not the same (as will my pasta loving 3-year-old, who was very aware of what was on her plate but ate it anyway!). That being said, the spaghetti squash has so little flavor of its own that with a strong enough sauce, it does take on the flavor of whatever it’s paired with, and the shape and texture are similar enough to pasta to make a pretty good replacement! Imagine, feeling like you’re eating a pasta dish while eating a bowl of veggies! And the best part is that the squash itself is so light, you can eat a good helping along with some bread without feeling stuffed like you would be with regular pasta.
I’m posting the “recipe” for preparing the squash below, which is more of a method than anything else. Pair this with your favorite pasta topping – we have had success with pesto, meatballs, meat sauce, and even just a simple, fresh tomato sauce with some ricotta cheese (pictured below). Just beware that unlike pasta which absorbs some sauce, the squash gives off liquid, so a thicker sauce will do better than something more watery. Oh, and don’t forget a generous sprinkle of romano cheese on top!
Roasted Spaghetti Squash
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Using a large, sharp knife and some elbow grease, cut your a spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. I have found this to be easier with smaller squash than larger, so consider getting 2 small ones instead of 1 large one if you can!
Next, use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff in the middle. Place the cleaned out squash halves cut-side down on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake for 45-90 minutes (depending on the size of your squash) until the outside gives easily when squeezed, and a test fork can easily shred flesh all the way to the skin.
Use a fork to shred and scoop the flesh into a bowl. Toss with your preferred topping and enjoy!