Winter squash is an obsession of mine. Over the next few weeks I'll be talking about it a lot: spaghetti, butternut, acorn, red kuri and pumpkin. We'll start with spaghetti because I find it to be both the easiest to work with and the most versatile.
In the store you'll notice that spaghetti squash is, well, unassuming. It's not the vibrant color of the red kuri squash, nor is it prominently displayed like pumpkins. Spaghetti squash is oblong and is the warmest shade of butter yellow, sometimes speckled with green on one side. Don't bother with small ones; generally speaking, the larger a squash is, the more flavorful.
Obviously you can substitute it for real spaghetti in any pasta dish. Personally, I find this approach to be...a let down. The texture of spaghetti squash, no matter how long you cook it, is never going to scratch your pasta itch. Because of its slightly sweet, bright and nutty flavor, I prefer to serve my spaghetti squash with things like warm spices, curry and parsley. It's also really delicious in a frittata with cilantro and feta.
Spiced Spaghetti Squash
one 3 to 3.5 lb spaghetti squash*
4T salted butter
2t chopped garlic
2T brown sugar
scant 1/2t cardamom*
3/4t kosher salt
1/4 cup cashews
Poke your squash with a fork ten in ten places. Microwave on high for five minutes, turn, and microwave for another nine minutes. Let it cool for five minutes. Slice squash in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds with a spoon and pull out the flesh with a fork. In a small bowl, combine spices, sugar and salt. In a medium sauce pan with high sides, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly golden (being very careful not to burn any little bits). Add spice mixture, then squash and toss to combine. Top with herbs and cashews.
*I recommend you buy this in the bulk section of Whole Foods. You can purchase a few tablespoons for less than a dollar instead of purchasing a whole container for $12.
* If you get a different size, microwave for about five minutes per pound, or until the squash is slightly soft to the touch.