Spaghetti Squash is a regular in our CSA shares during cooler weather. We know that some people get tired of them, which we can understand, especially if the only way you eat them is in place of pasta. It’s not a bad way to eat spaghetti squash, but it’s nice to switch it up from time to time. Fortunately for us, we recently got a recipe from a family member — thanks, MAP! — with a new way to make up squash that sounded tasty. Let’s find out, shall we?
By itself, spaghetti squash is pretty bland, which can be good or bad, depending on how you use it. It’s good, because it will absorb a lot of flavor from the other ingredients in your dish, but it’s bad for the same reason; at least, if you don’t add ingredients with lots of flavor. So, think of it as a canvas on which to add flavors and you’ll do all right. The other nice thing about spaghetti squash is that, once cooked, it’s essentially pre-shredded and ready for mixing.
The original recipe called for a teaspoon of fresh thyme, and, if you have it, by all means use it. You casserole will be the better for it. For the cheese, we went with a sharp Cheddar for extra flavor, but another sharp flavored cheeses would work, too. Gruyere, or an aged Swiss come to mind. For the sour cream, we had, as usual, just made our own, so it’ll be milder than the store-bought kind. Another reason to go with a strong-flavored cheese.
Procedure in detail:
Cook squash. Some people will prick the spaghetti squash with a fork and boil; we prefer to roast them in the oven, so we cut them in half, scrape out the seeds, place them cut side down on a baking sheet and pop them into a 350°F oven until they’re tender, about an hour. Once baked, let them cool until you can handle them easily without getting burned. If you have a better way of cooking spaghetti squash, feel free to use it.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter an 8×8 inch baking pan.
Scrape squash. Using a fork, tease the inside of the squash from the peel. If cooked all the way through, it should come out in strands, much as the name implies. Put all the spaghetti squash strands into a medium bowl.
Sauté onions. In a small skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and sauté the onions, thyme, and red pepper, until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes.
Add onions and dairy. Now that the onions are tender, add them to the spaghetti squash mixture, along with sour cream and about half the cheese, and stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Assemble. Put the squash mixture into your prepared pan, making an even layer, top with the remaining cheese and then the crushed croutons.
Bake. Slide into the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until browned on top and bubbly.
This is a good way to use up a whole spaghetti squash in one go. It works okay as a main, but may be better suited as a side, since squash dishes are inherently on the bland side — perfect for a side, since they won’t steal the show. If you’re thinking of using this as a main, we would suggest that you amp up the flavor in the casserole. A few suggestions would be to add some nuts (pecans or walnuts would be nice), increase the amount of cheese to make it closer to a cheesey-type bake, think mac ‘n cheese with squash instead of pasta, or add a little more spice (whatever you like best). We’ll give this a good solid four stars, because it’s quite easy to prepare, makes a great side, plus you can make it ahead and then bake it later.