For years, whenever I heard about spaghetti squash one thought came to mind: Gimmick. Labeling can be such bullshit; frozen bean burgers are said to taste “just like beef;” there’s an item on menus called “cauliflower mashed-potatoes” (which are good, but sadly not mashed potatoes); and everything is low-carb, low-fat, high-fiber, nutrient-enhanced, and made to do every wonder for our bodies but taste good. You just can’t trust anything.
Who am I to know that spaghetti squash had been around since, like, the dinosaurs? I hadn’t known spaghetti squash existed before McDonald’s, the Atkins Diet, and commercials. I hadn’t known anything existed before commercials.
But, for the past few months, I’ve been walking past those big bully squashes in the veggie section of Whole Foods, eyeing them suspiciously. Maybe they aren’t so bad, I thought, but I sure as hell don’t know what to do with a five pound lump of a spaghetti squash. So I left them alone.
And then I stopped eating meat. Well, stopped would be an overstatement (but it makes for a more dramatic feeling, don’t ya think?). I haven’t so much stopped as limited my meat eating. In the past two weeks, I’ve gone from eating meat with dinner every night, to eating a total of three meals with meat—not including rendered bacon fat for sauteing (exceptions must be made you know.)
I’ve been eating a lot of squash. It’s probably the most satisfying non-meat food for me besides beans. That may not sound like a compliment, but trust me, it is. I love squash. I even love it enough to spend many dangerous minutes peeling and hacking it into pieces with a very sharp knife. It’s almost rewarding to spend so much energy in order to make roasted squash. Almost.
You see, spaghetti squash—which actually does flippin’ taste like a lighter, sweeter version of spaghetti!!!—isn’t rewarding to make. It’s a pain in the ass. The damn thing is too large to fit into one roasting pan to roast, you need two. And you can’t roast it on a baking sheet because you need to put water in the bottom of the pan while roasting. The water burns down and you’re left with two big, dirty roasting pans. And your back hurts from that damn car accident two months ago. And then—if you’re following this recipe, and you really should—you need to dirty a large skillet to saute the cooked squash with butter and chives. When you finally get to the table you try a bite and, even though your mouth is smiling, you feel like crying. Because it’s so god-damn good that you know you’ll be making this again and again. You eat the whole damn bowlful, half-happy, half-depressed. And when you’re finished, you have the urge to go out and buy another squash and do it all over again. But you’d be damned if it’s rewarding.
Chived Spaghetti Squash
makes a lot//adapted from Emeril
1 spaghetti squash, anywhere from 2 1/2 to 5 pounds
3 tablespoons butter
3-4 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Using a sharp knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise and place, cut side down, in a baking dish (or two). Add enough water to come 1/2-inch up the sides of the baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes, until the squash is easily pierced with a paring knife. Turn squash over and cover with foil again and continue to cook another 15 minutes, until the squash is very tender. Remove from the oven, uncover, and allow to cool slightly. Using a spoon, remove the seeds and discard. Using a fork, gently pull the strands of squash away from the peel and place the squash strands into a mixing bowl.
Heat a skillet. Add the butter, spaghetti squash, chives, salt and pepper and toss thoroughly but gently to heat and combine. Serve immediately or cover and keep warm until ready to serve.