As you’ve probably noticed (we certainly have), we’re getting a lot of spaghetti squash lately in our CSA shares. Probably 90% of the time, we’ve simply baked the squash, pulled out the strands like spaghetti, and eaten them with a basic red sauce. It’s fine, but a little predictable. So, lately, we’ve been looking for more. We’ve tried turning the spaghetti squash into a type of coleslaw, as a casserole, and, now, with pepper and Parmesan cheese.
This recipe is based on one that we found while browsing the web (see chow.com). It received quite high marks, so we thought that we’d try it out and let you know what we thought. Let’s try scratchin’ up this squash!
Green shaker cans do NOT contain Parmesan cheese. Don’t even think of buying one. Instead, buy a chunk of cheese that you need to grate; it can be either Paramigiano-Reggiano, or Grana Padano. That’s it. Well, a good Pecorino Romano would work, too.
Procedure in detail:
Prep squash. Yep, get out that big ol’ chef’s knife, slice the squash in half, and scoop out the seeds. You now have two choices: you can either bake the squash for 50-60 minutes in a 350°F oven, or you can place it in the microwave on high for 10 to 15 minutes. In either case, you’ll need to cook the squash until it’s tender and the sides press in easily.
Scrape squash. If need be, let the squash cool a bit; then, using a fork, scrape out the insides. It’ll come out in strands that look similar to spaghetti (it is spaghetti squash, after all). Place the strands in a bowl or a colander for the time being.
Cook onion and garlic. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the garlic and onion and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes. Watch the onion and garlic carefully, because you don’t want them to burn.
Add squash. Once the alliums are tender, add the squash and walnuts and cook, stirring often, until everything is heated through. The strands of the squash should separate a bit more, too.
Add nuts. We think the addition of a few walnuts makes for a better-textured final dish — a little crunch to compliment the softer squash. Plus a nice flavor profile, too.
Season. Taste the squash, then add salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste. Remember that the cheese is salty, too, so you might want to go light on the salt. Stir it all around and get ready to serve.
Serve. Place some squash on each plate, top with cheese, add another layer of squash, and top with more cheese. Serve immediately.
Well, on that other site, many people were giving this the five-star treatment. Here, we just can’t abide by the high ratings. Sure, Cacio e Pepe Spaghetti Squash is good, but it’s really not that good. It’s still on the bland side, even with the strong flavors of Parmesan cheese and black pepper, although we think the addition of the walnuts really helped. To us, spaghetti squash has the same flavor profile of summer squash, another vegetable that we have a harder time using – there just don’t seem to be many dishes that really make good (read tasty) use of such bland vegetables. On the upside, this is a quick and easy way of preparing spaghetti squash — especially if you use the microwave for pre-cooking the squash. Once the strands are removed from the shell, this recipe takes all of 10 minutes to get on the table, which is nice. We think that, overall, this is worth three stars — probably a high three stars, at that.