Spaghetti squash is a watermelon-shaped winter squash with a creamy yellow shell. When cooked, the nutty flavored, golden yellow flesh separates into spaghetti-like strands. With the right seasonings and a robust sauce, this novelty squash makes an attractive and delicious vegetarian entrée.
Yield: 4-6 servings
1 spaghetti squash (about 3 pounds)
¼ cup olive oil
1 medium yellow onion (about 8 ounces), cut into ½-inch dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice, drained (see Cook’s Note)
2 small zucchini (about 8 ounces total), trimmed and cut into ¼-inchdice
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Pierce the skin of the squash in several places with a sharp knife or carving fork. Place the squash on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until tender when pierced with a fork, about 45 minutes. While the squash is baking make the sauce.
In a 10-inch sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Swirl to coat the pan and sauté the onion and garlic, stirring frequently, until softened and just beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, adjust the heat so the sauce simmers slowly, and cook for 20 minutes. Add the zucchini and simmer 5 minutes longer. Add the parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Keep warm over very low heat.
When the squash is tender, halve lengthwise. Use a fork to scrape the flesh from the skin, and place the squash strands in a serving bowl. Toss with the butter, and season with salt and pepper. When ready to serve, spoon the tomato sauce over the top and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. (The squash can be prepared up to 1 day in advance. Refrigerate, covered, and reheat in a 250°F oven or in a microwave until hot. The sauce, without the addition of zucchini and parsley, can be made 1 day in advance. Bring to a simmer; then add the zucchini, parsley, salt, and pepper as directed above.)
By November, the fresh tomatoes in the market usually have little flavor and a mealy texture. However, I have been finding fresh hothouse-grown beefsteak tomatoes in the market that taste pretty good. Substitute 2½ pounds beefsteak tomatoes for the canned tomatoes, if desired. Peel, seed, and coarsely chop them before adding to the sauce.