Unique among squash, spaghetti squash breaks up into pale yellow, pasta-like strands when the flesh is scraped with a fork after cooking. It has a wonderfully light, tender, but almost crunchy texture. I like to treat it simply, as in this version with walnuts and butter. The squash can be cut in half for baking, but the flesh is more moist and tender when cooked whole, either by baking or boiling in water.
• 1 large spaghetti squash or 2 smaller ones (about 4 pounds)
• 1 tbsp olive oil or other cooking oil
• 1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
• 6 tbsp butter
• 2 tbsp fresh sage, coarsely chopped
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Smear the oil on a rimmed baking pan. Set the squash on it and bake until the flesh is tender when pierced with a skewer or a knife (about 1 hour). Test frequently, because over-baking can make the flesh soggy and prone to clumping.
3. When done, cut the squash in half lengthwise and let it cool slightly to the point where it doesn’t burn your fingers. Remove the seeds and the orange strands that connect the seeds to the lighter flesh. I find that pulling on the seeds with one hand while using a knife to cut the strands with the other does the trick.
4. While the oven is still on and the squash is cooling, spread the walnuts out on a baking sheet and toast them for about 10 minutes, or until fragrant but not browned. Melt the butter in a small pan over low heat and cook until the foam subsides, and then add the sage and sizzle for about 2 minutes, until the leaves are slightly crisp but not browned.
5. Fork out the flesh of the squash into a shallow serving bowl by dragging the tines of a fork though it. Do this carefully and thoroughly, as it’s the key to making this dish look just like a bowl of thin spaghetti — or capellini, to be more precise.
6. Arrange the strands nicely in the bowl and pour the butter and sage over them. Sprinkle the walnuts on top and serve warm.
More about cooking with leeks and winter squash: Read Growing and Cooking Leeks and Winter Squashes for additional growing and cooking tips for these two winter favorites.
Esteemed garden writer Barbara Damrosch farms and writes with her husband, Eliot Coleman, at Four Season Farm in Harborside, Maine. She is the author of The Garden Primer and, with Coleman, of the Four Season Farm Gardener's Cookbook.