With so many types of squash to purchase and prepare, a little profile of each is helpful. After I read that its primary use is baby food, banana squash recently made my shopping list. One squash stands out from the rest, however, for its toothsome texture and relatively bland flavor, both of which reccomend it to uninitiated palates
Spaghetti squash earns its name from the way its flesh separates into thin strands. It’s also something of a blank canvas for other flavors. The recent gluten-free trend has prompted even more cooks to use the squash as a noodle substitute.
I blogged back in 2011 about how appreciation for spaghetti squash came late to my own kitchen. It’s easy to roast, separate from the shell and keep in the refrigerator for a few days until the time comes to briefly saute it for a side dish or toss it into pasta (carbonara is my personal favorite).
Although it doesn’t mash like other types, spaghetti squash more recently has become a preferred baby food in my house. After roasting the squash, I blend it in the food processor and then mix in coconut oil. The mild flavor encourages my son to eat like little else can.
The next time I need to roast spaghetti squash, I’ll save half for my husband and me to prepare this cheesy, herby side dish devised by Mario Batali for McClatchy News Service. While I haven’t looked locally for the soft Italian cheese called Robiola, I’d probably have the greatest chance of success in Rogue Creamery’s cheese shop, where I’d no doubt find a suitable stand-in.
Spaghetti Squash With Soft Herbs and Robiola
2 small spaghetti squash (about 2 1⁄4 pounds each)
4 tablespoons (1⁄2 stick) unsalted butter
6 ounces fresh soft Robiola, cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes (may substitute cream cheese)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions (white and about 2 inches of the greens)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Using a sharp knife, cut each of the squash in half lengthwise. Place them, cut side down, in a large baking dish. Add enough water to reach 1⁄2 inch up sides of dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until squash is easily pierced with a paring knife.
Turn squash over, cover with foil again and bake for another 15 minutes, until squash is very tender. Remove from oven, uncover and allow to cool slightly. Using a spoon, remove and discard seeds. Using a fork, gently pull strands of squash away from peel and place squash strands in a mixing bowl.
In a 14-inch skillet, heat the butter over medium-high heat until it is foaming. Then add the Robiola and stir to melt. Add spaghetti squash, the herbs, salt and pepper; toss thoroughly but gently to heat and combine. Serve immediately or at room temperature.
Makes 8 to 10 side-dish servings.