A valentine of sorts.

Thanks to MySpace, I recently got back in touch with Paula, who had been my best friend for a number of years when I was a kid. For a couple years of that friendship, we lived within walking distance of each other and we were in and out of each other’s houses on a regular basis.

I was thinking about this recently, and although I know I must’ve eaten dinner at her house dozens of times, there’s only one food that I really remember eating: spaghetti squash.

Although we both had Italian last names, Paula’s family was Italian with a capital I. So, when her mom said we were having “spaghetti squash,” I had no idea what she was talking about. Squash, to me, meant that orange puree we had only at Thanksgiving, but, being cripplingly shy, I’m sure I didn’t say as much at the time.

When Paula’s mom picked up a bright yellow squash half and raked a fork through it, turning the flesh into pale yellow, spaghetti-like ribbons, I was absolutely enchanted. I may have been twelve or so at the time, but I still thought getting spaghetti from a squash was downright magical.

So, Paula’s mom — I guess being an adult I could call you Mary now, but it still seems impolite — this one’s for you: spaghetti with spaghetti squash.

spaghetti with spaghetti squash

Spaghetti with spaghetti squash, adapted from Vegetarian Planet:

Ingredients:

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • olive oil
  • 8 oz. spaghetti
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 5-6 pieces of stale bread, torn or chopped into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • juice from one lemon
  • hard, grating cheese (I used Manchego)
  • capers

Split squash in half and remove seeds without damaging the squash flesh. Brush halves with oil and roast in a 350-degree oven for an hour.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta accordingly. Drain and return to pot. While pasta is cooking, heat a skillet with 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, bread pieces, and walnuts to oil and, stirring constantly, cook over medium heat. When the bread and walnuts are a bit toasted, add to pasta.

Scrape the flesh from the spaghetti squash and add to the pasta/bread mixture. Add the lemon and parsley. Salt to taste and loosen the mixture, if necessary, with a little oil. Warm until heated through.

Serve with cheese and drained capers.

Notes: As much as I enjoyed the spaghetti-meets-spaghetti idea, getting the two to incorporate thoroughly was a pain in the ass. I think next time I’d make this with a short, tubular pasta or maybe even orzo. I can’t believe I got caught without Parmesan cheese! The Manchego was good — because, well, it’s Manchego — but it didn’t add enough of that sharp little nip you get from good Parmesan. Also, try as I might, I really don’t like walnuts. I want to, but I just don’t.

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5 thoughts on “A valentine of sorts.

  1. Is it me, or are those the most ginormous capers ever? Or is it just the perspective? Now that I look at it again, that sure is a whopping piece of parsley. Maybe I just never have a bowl of pasta that small. :)

  2. Spaghetti squash is really good but has practically no flavor. Next time try it with a little onion and garlic quickly sauteed in olive oil. Stir in some tomatoes (fresh or canned), some black or kalamata olives, feta cheese and fresh basil. The squash can stand on its own without the addition of the spaghetti. I’m glad you tried it. It’s a good way to get kids to eat their veggies!

  3. Lavinia: I tend to go for extremely close-up shots of stuff so it automatically crops out whatever household mess is almost certainly surrounding it…

  4. Great photo! I agree with the person who says spaghetti squash has no flavor, though, but with the capers and other ingredients I bet this recipe tasted really good. Toasted pine nuts might be a good substitute for the walnuts if you don’t like them.

  5. (this is a different Rebecca)

    I adore spaghetti squash, and often serve it with marinara sauce in place of regular spaghetti. I also make a wonderful shrimp scampi with squash in place of pasta.

    I’d never even thought about combining pasta and spaghetti squash.

    My husband had never had spaghetti squash until I served it to him as a carbonara. Now he won’t eat carbonara with pasta!

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