Friends of ours grow the most beautiful spaghetti squash and even better, they share their abundance with us, along with their hard-neck garlic, raspberries and rhubarb, which I then make into Pesto, Honey Raspberry Jam and Rhubarb ‘n Apple Crisp (recipes to come).
I totally enjoy the miracle that unfolds before my eyes as baked squash transforms with the tines of a fork into long, golden pasta-like threads. No wonder it was considered “a curious new vegetable” when introduced a second time to the U.S. in the 1970′s.
Whereas most winter squash came from the West to the rest of the world, spaghetti squash is an exception. Its history can be traced to mid-19th century China and then to early 20th century Japan where it was known as “golden thread melon.” Burpee Seed Company introduced “Vegetable Spaghetti” to gardeners in America in 1936. It wasn’t until the 1970’s, however, when promoted as “Spaghetti Squash” that it began to increase in popularity.
Another reason to enjoy spaghetti squash and other winter squash, is their nutrient-density: a great source of vitamins A and C, potassium, dietary fiber and manganese, naturally high in anti-oxidants, plus a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and four of the B vitamins!
The end of the summer–when all of the Mediterranean vegetables ripen in our Montana gardens–seems the perfect time to pair them with the first spaghetti squash of the season. And that’s just what I did in today’s recipe.
p.s. I am currently loving the goat and sheep’s milk feta cheese that our local Costco began selling this summer.
Yield: 4-6 servings
Spaghetti Squash is a mild-tasting vegetable. By preparing it with Mediterranean ingredients, it becomes full flavored and perfect either as a meal in itself or as a side vegetable.
1 4-pound spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed with a garlic press
2 cups zucchini, quartered lengthwise and sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 cups diced fresh tomatoes
2 rounded tablespoons pesto or 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
1/3 cup quartered, pitted kalamata olives
2 ounces feta cheese, diced or crumbled
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking pan with parchment paper and lightly spray it with olive oil. Place the spaghetti squash cut side down on the baking sheet and bake 35-50 minutes or until a fork can be inserted easily into the squash. (Note: the fresher the spaghetti squash the shorter will be the baking time.) Remove from the oven and set aside until cool enough to handle.
While the spaghetti squash is cooling, put the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until they are tender and golden. Add the diced zucchini and garlic and a bit of salt and pepper to taste. When the zucchini is just tender, stir in the diced tomatoes. After a minute, stir in the pesto if using it, and then the kalamata olives.
While the vegetables are cooking, use a fork to gently pull the strands of squash away from the peel creating long strands of vegetable spaghetti. Add the squash along with the feta cheese (and the fresh basil, if you are using it) to the pan. Toss to combine everything, adjusting the salt and pepper to taste and serve.
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