Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Peas and Herbs is a winner because spaghetti squash really is an amazing vegetable.
Now I don’t usually go for cute foods, or foods that appear to be one thing but are really another. It’s why I could never be a vegan or probably even a vegetarian. Too many cute foods designed to fool you into thinking you are eating meat.
But I’ll make an exception for spaghetti squash. Because spaghetti squash, with its natural tendency to form itself into long strands after cooking, is pretty darn cute! But it’s also delicious and healthy as heck.
Spaghetti squash is a member of the winter squash family and includes the ever popular pumpkin, butternut and acorn varieties. You can cook it as you do most any of the winter squash.
You can prepare the football shaped squash whole in the oven, wrapped in foil on the grill, micro-waved, steamed or even placed in the crockpot and cooked on low all day. Prick the whole specimens with a fork prior to cooking to allow them to breathe and release steam, if you choose these methods.
These certainly are easy ways to go when cooking this squash. But I prefer to put a bit more effort into the procedure because I can coax out more flavor. So I like to cut mine lengthwise and roast them, cut side down. It also has the advantage of cutting the cooking time down somewhat when the vegetable is halved. Which is one feature to love about this cooking method. But I also like it because it allows me to season the squash before cooking.
I will say for the record like all winter squash varieties, spaghetti squash can be peeled and the flesh sliced or diced before cooking, which will really help reduce the cooking time. But I don’t recommend it, as the beauty of spaghetti squash is the long strands of noodle like vegetable that resembles pasta.
Averaging from 4 to 8 pounds, the cylinder shaped spaghetti squash is generally available year-round with a peak season from early fall through winter. While true spaghetti squash is pale ivory to pale yellow in color, in the early 1990’s, an orange spaghetti squash, known as “Orangetti” was developed and this is what is most frequently found in today’s supermarkets. Higher in beta-carotene the orange or gold variety is also bit sweeter than its paler counterpart, although both have a mild flavor and are easily paired with all kinds of other foods.
But the allure does not stop there. A 50-gram serving of spaghetti squash has only about 40 calories. These calories contain zero fat or cholesterol and are nutritionally densely packed with about 1 gram of protein, 4 grams of sugar, 2 grams of fiber and 10 grams of carbohydrates. As far as vitamins are concerned, there are quite a few found in this interesting vegetable. Namely, there are parts of the vitamin B complex as well as vitamin A and E. However, the largest vitamin value this plant has is in vitamin K.
- 1 spaghetti squash (about 4 lbs) halved lengthwise
- 1 T extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 T light brown sugar, firmly packed
- salt and pepper, as needed
- 1⁄2 c parmesan cheese, finely grated, plus more for garnish
- 1⁄2 c flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- 1⁄2 c cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 c frozen peas, thawed or fresh peas blanched
- 1⁄4 c blanched hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Brush cut sides and cavities of squash with oil, and sprinkle with brown sugar, salt and pepper. Place squash, cut sides down, on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment. Roast until tender, about 50 minutes. Let cool slightly on the sheet set on a wire rack.
Use a fork to scrape the flesh into long strands. Place in a large bowl. Add oil, Parmesan, parsley, cilantro, peas and hazelnuts. Season with 1 teaspoon salt, and a good grinding of black pepper to taste. Toss and serve immediately with more cheese as garnish.