Nailed It or Failed It: Baked spaghetti squash

Last summer, Brad grew spaghetti squash in our garden, and he was so good at it, we had several at the end of the season.

We read they would keep well in a cool, dry place, so we stored several in our basement for future use.

I check on them every few weeks to make sure they are OK. Fortunately, all but one has survived so far.

Since it’s almost planting season, I want to use up last year’s crop.

I started looking through my stash of recipes for a new way to prepare them.

Today’s recipe comes from inspireddreamer.com. It seemed simple enough for a weeknight side dish and, of course, I had all of the ingredients in my pantry.

Baked Spaghetti Squash with Garlic and Butter

INGREDIENTS

— 1 small spaghetti squash (about 3-4 pounds)

— 2 tablespoons butter

— 2 cloves garlic, finely minced

— 1/4 cup finely minced parsley (or basil)

— 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

— 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pierce squash a few times with sharp parking knife (to let steam escape). Bake spaghetti squash for 60 minutes, or until a paring knife pierces easily through skin with little resistance. Let squash cool for 10 minutes.

Cut squash in half, lengthwise. Use a fork to remove and discard the seeds. Continue using a fork to scrape the squash to get long, lovely strands. If the squash seems difficult to scrape, return the squash to bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Heat a large saute pan with the butter and the garlic over medium-low heat. When garlic becomes fragrant, add parsley, salt and spaghetti squash strands. Toss well, sprinkle in the Parmesan cheese and taste to see if you need additional salt. The spaghetti squash should have a slight crunch (i.e., not mushy) — but if you like it softer, cover the pan and cook two more minutes.

When I arrived home from work, I turned on the oven and started getting ready to prepare supper.

Rather than use the recipe’s method, I opted to make the squash the way a former recipe stated: cut it in half, scoop out the insides, then bake it, which ended up being the hardest part of preparing this dish.

After weighing all four of the squash I have, realized I would needed two because what we have are rather small.

I took two to the kitchen and placed each squash, one at a time, on a dish towel and began cutting them in half. I started by stabbing one of the biggest knives I have right down the middle and working my way to one end, then removing the blade and cutting through to the other end.

After a workout, I had both squash cut in half and then scooped out the seeds and the loose stringy stuff inside.

The recipe said to bake the squash before cutting it in half, next time I may try cooking the squash first and see if it’s easier to cut in half and remove the unwanted insides.

The recipe didn’t say to, but I put olive oil, salt and pepper on each squash half and then placed them on a baking sheet, cut side down, and into the oven they went. While the squash cooked, I began preparing the rest of our meal.

When the squash was almost done I placed a saute pan on the stove to let the butter melt and the garlic cook.

By the time the butter melted, I had the parsley chopped and added it to the pan along with the salt. I had fresh Parmesan I grated and added to the pan.

The spaghetti squash wasn’t entirely done, so I turned off the stove and waited.

After about 10 minutes I rechecked the squash and felt they were ready to come out of the oven. They cooled a few minutes then I began trying to shred the first half and realized it wasn’t done. I tried shredding the next half, and it wasn’t done either. I started on the third half, and it shredded just fine, as did the fourth half.

While I was shredding the two that were done, I placed the others back in the oven to continue baking. Since everything was ready for our meal, I went ahead and added what squash was prepared to the butter and garlic mixture. I turned the stove back on to keep the dish warm, and after a short while, the other squash were ready, and I repeated the shredding process and added most of the squash to the pan.

It seemed like a lot of squash for the amount of butter, garlic and parsley we had.

We sat down to eat, Brad prayed, and we filled our plates as usual. As we ate, Brad and I agreed this new dish was a winner.

We liked the lightness of the meal, and it was pretty healthy. We were glad it made enough we could have it a couple more times during the week.

After eating, I shredded the last little bit of squash and added it to the remaining squash mixture and put it in the refrigerator. The next night I reheated some of this dish, and it was just as good the second time around. It heated up just fine, and the squash did not get mushy.

Because this dish made so much, we had enough for a third meal, so I added some spaghetti sauce, and it became our entree the third time around. It was pretty yummy. The flavors of the garlic, butter and parsley worked well with the spaghetti sauce.

I’ll have to say this recipe was a success and I’m looking forward to growing even more spaghetti squash this year.

I’m adding this recipe to my self-made cookbook, but the next time I make it for just the two of us I don’t think I’ll need three to four pounds of spaghetti squash; two pounds should do.

Sarah Condley is an amateur baker and chef who is compiling a cookbook of her favorite recipes.