Spaghetti squash with pesto
August 27, 2009 § 3 Comments
I cooked a spaghetti squash for myself once last summer and swore I was going to incorporate it as a frequent participant in my diet. It’s not particularly flavorful, but it’s such a bizarre and fun vegetable – a squash that, once cooked, is almost just like eating noodles! I suppose really it’s more like vermicelli or angel hair pasta than spaghetti (that is, thinner strands), but noodle cognate aside, you can use it basically like you would pasta – just add sauce or sauteed vegetables and garlic and cheese, maybe even a Thai peanut sauce, carrots, and cucumbers…Anyway, since my promise to myself last summer, it took me an entire year to get around to eating spaghetti squash again, oops. But it was just as fun the second time around!
Though a lot of spaghetti squash recipes suggest microwaving it, I think the best way to cook the squash is to roast it. It gets better flavor this way, and I’m opposed to microwaving in general – I can just sense a newspaper headline coming along one of these days soon declaring that microwaving destroys the nutrients in food, and I’ll be able to say ‘ha! I knew it.’ Cut the squash in half with a big heavy knife – it can be hard, so you sometimes have to be a bit aggressive and put some heft behind the knife, just be careful of where your fingers are – then scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff from the middle. Pour a little olive oil on the cut side and rub it around with your fingers, then put the cut sides down on a baking sheet and pop it into the oven at about 400-425 degrees. (I’m never very exact when I’m roasting. If I feel impatient I go 425-450. The trick is to keep an eye out and turn the oven down if the vegetables show signs of burning.) You can then probably ignore it for about half an hour while you prep the sauce. At around 30 minutes, try flipping it and piercing the inside flesh with a fork – if it’s soft so the fork goes right through then it’s ready to go. If not, check again in another 5-10 minutes until it’s ready. When you take the squash out of the oven, flip it over, and use a couple of forks to scrape the flesh out of the shell and into a bowl; it should come out all stringy like pasta.
I stirred a couple of tablespoons of homemade pesto into the squash and added some cooked Italian sausage. Then I served a simple salad on the side. Because it is made of the classically Italian combo of basil, garlic, and parmesan, pesto will go with almost any other ingredient that you think of as seriously Italian, like tomatoes, artichokes, roasted red peppers, sauteed mushrooms, mozarella cheese, Italian sausage. It also goes with mild flavored fish or chicken. Happily, since I had run out of bread for making sandwiches, the pesto squash was great cold the next day for lunch (kind of like a pasta salad).