Spaghetti Squash with Garlic and Cumin

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Did you know that spaghetti squash is a fruit?  Me neither! Botanically, squashes are fruits because they contain the plant’s seeds, but they’re usually cooked and eaten as vegetables.

This low-calorie fruit belongs to the family of winter squashes, which includes: acorn, buttercup, butternut, hubbard, and kabocha. It is full of fibre, antioxidants and vitamins, including Vitamin C, B6, potassium and manganese. When raw, the flesh is similar to the other raw winter squashes but when cooked, the flesh pulls away from the outer skin in strands that resemble spaghetti – thus the name.

Spaghetti squash is less sweet than other varieties of winter squash – in truth, it is quite bland. But the benign flavour is exactly why spaghetti squash is often substituted for wheat noodles in gluten-free circles, and paired with sauces and seasonings that would typically accompany pasta.

This recipe pairs the squash with garlic, cumin, and fresh herbs, taking the otherwise bland vegetable in a whole new direction! This might just be my favourite way to eat spaghetti squash. It’s delicious!

Ingredients

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh dill, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small fresh red chilli, seeds and inner stem removed (or ½ tsp. sambel oelek)
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tbsp. ground coriander
  • ½ tsp. Celtic or pink Himalyan salt
  • 1-2 fresh tomatoes, coarsely chopped (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. pine nuts, toasted (garnish, optional)

Cut the spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash halves cut-side down in a roasting pan (with sides) and pour just enough water into the pan to reach the cut edges of the squash.

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Bake the squash in a preheated 375F oven for 30 – 45 minutes. In my oven, 30 minutes is perfect at that temperature. While the squash is baking, prep the fresh herbs and place in a large bowl with the minced garlic, spices and salt.

Test the squash for doneness after 30 minutes of baking. To do that, press your finger into the skin of the squash and gage the resistance. If there is little or no indentation from your finger, the squash is not cooked enough. If there is, then the squash is done. Remove squash from the oven and flip the halves over – cut-side up, to cool. Spaghetti squash firms up a bit as it sits and cools so don’t omit this step.

I generally err on the side of slightly under-done because spaghetti squash holds quite a bit of water and if it is overcooked, the strands will be soggy and soft, and won’t hold their shape as well.

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When cool enough to handle, use a fork to scrape the squash out of the shell and place in the large bowl with the seasonings and herbs.

If the strands still seem to be wet even after they cool, strain the strands in a colander or rest them on paper towels to remove some of the excess water.

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Using tongs or a couple of forks, toss the squash with the fresh herbs and seasonings as best you can until well mixed.

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This may take a few minutes because the strands of squash are prone to clumping together, but just do your best.

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Now, when I first made this dish, I garnished the plate with a couple of tomato wedges and I ended up enjoying the tomatoes with the squash so much that I will be including them in the list of ingredients from now on! Just toss them in at the very end if you decide to add them. 

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This dish makes a great side to any main course, but to be honest, it is usually the entire main course for me!

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