When we picked up a large spaghetti squash at the CSA, we were slightly crestfallen that there wasn’t another squash option. Sometimes we can choose from among several winter squashes, or sometimes there’s a good variety in the sizes. Not this time. It was a large spaghetti squash. We were disappointed primarily because we find it difficult to do something great with spaghetti squash. After some thought, we figured we might be going about using spaghetti squash the wrong way, and that we need to turn everything on its head.
Generally, when we get a spaghetti squash, we use it in a way that tries to showcase the spaghetti-like strands — with a red sauce, sometimes with Parmesan, black pepper, and olive oil; basically, the way you’d use spaghetti — and we were always underwhelmed. Then we thought, why try to use it as spaghetti; why not use it for what it is, squash? We came up with this recipe.
If you have a favorite way of making roasted winter squash, feel free to use that, instead of our suggested maple, sage, and pecan. You might find that just treating spaghetti squash as winter squash provides a bit more interest, flavor-wise.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Center a rack in the middle of the oven. Don’t worry too much about the temperature; if you want to bake something else that needs a 400°F oven at the same time, just put the oven at 400°F and bake away. The squash won’t care.
Clean squash. Slice the squash in half lengthwise. Spaghetti squash is tough, so be careful. We chose lengthwise so the squash wouldn’t be all tippy in the oven; no other reason. Scoop out all the seeds and stringy pulp, and discard. Or, save the seeds and roast them for a bonus snack.
Butter and season. Rub the inside of the squash and the cut edges with butter, making sure the excess is inside the squash so it won’t leak out while the squash bakes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, the sage, and, finally, the maple syrup.
Bake. Into the oven for about 60 to 75 minutes, depending on the size of the squash. When done, the squash will be soft and the insides nice and tender.
Toast pecans. While the squash is baking, toast the pecans. Simply place them on a baking sheet and place in the oven to 8 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully near the end so the pecans don’t burn. Once toasted, transfer the nuts to a plate to stop the toasting (the residual heat from the pan might cause them to burn).
Serve. Once the squash is tender, use a spoon or a fork to scrape the flesh from the skin and mix in the seasoning. Serve immediately, topped with the toasted pecans.
We liked having spaghetti squash this way. Especially with the toasted pecans and maple syrup. It’s a change of pace from the old standard of using the squash strands in lieu of spaghetti (while we sometimes do so, it seems silly to use squash in place of spaghetti, which is perfectly good with sauce). Overall, for ease of preparation, five stars, but the squash still lacks somewhat in flavor (spaghetti squash is bland), so we’ll kick it down to four stars.