I have been eating and enjoying a ton of spaghetti squash this season, though it’s not a vegetable that I grew up eating at all. It’s mild, slightly sweet taste and crunchy texture is a perfect canvas for just about any flavors you want to pair with it.
I love this particular spaghetti squash salad in the fall and winter. Strands of soft, crunchy squash are tossed with cubes of sweet potatoes, sweet chewy cranberries, salty crunchy walnuts, mild shallots, parmesan cheese, parsley and white balsamic vinaigrette. It is so luscious when served warm, out of the oven!
Spaghetti squash isn’t the sexiest vegetable. It’s like a big, oblong pumpkin. But it’s a great source of vitamins (folic acid, potassium, vitamin A) and low in calories at only roughly 42 calories a cup.
Like some other squashes, it can be a little difficult to work with. It takes a big, sharp knife to cut it in half. And you’ll find the inside to look very much like a pumpkin. So you’ll next scoop out the seeds and the excess fleshy strands.
The rest is easy. Rub a little olive oil, salt and pepper inside and all over the flesh. Place it cut side down on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Your kitchen will take on a heavenly sweet, nutty aroma. And the squash is done when the flesh is tender when poked with a fork. All you need to do is rake the inside of the squash with a fork to create the strands of “spaghetti”.
The dressing that I love with this salad is a simple White Balsamic Vinaigrette.
This salad lends itself well to a variety of your leftovers. Yet because you are combining them with the cooked squash, it tastes so fresh.
I used a leftover baked sweet potato for this recipe. But you can pan saute a sweet potato while the squash is cooking. I love the flavors and textures of this colorful fall and winter salad. It’s sweet, crunchy, salty and chewy. And the balsamic vinegar and parmesan cheese add a richness while balancing the sweet elements of this salad.
I love all the flavors together in this salad. But here’s how you can MAKE IT YOUR OWN:
- Use any vegetable in place of the sweet potato. Carrots, butternut squash, beets come to mind. Brussels sprouts would be awesome, too.
- To keep the chewy component, use any dried fruit you have on hand. Raisins, golden raisins, currants, dried apricots sound good to me.
- Create a new salad for each season. Feature mushrooms, peas and asparagus in the spring. How about zucchini and corn in the summer?
- Take this squash salad to your favorite land. Give it a Southwestern twist. Or make it Asian, Greek, Italian, Mediterranean, Moroccan. Incorporate those vegetables and seasonings into your salad.
- Add protein into the mix. Chicken, seafood, whatever you’d like will make this a heartier meal.
- Use different salad dressings to compliment your vegetables.
- Certainly add greens into the mix. Spinach is great when serving this warm. But this salad is just as delicious cold and would be terrific served on a plate of your favorite greens.
- 1 spaghetti squash cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed
- 1 sweet potato, cut into small cubes
- 1 shallot, diced
- ⅓ cup of dried cranberries
- ⅓ cup of chopped walnuts
- ¼ - ½ cup of grated parmesan cheese
- 1 Tablespoon of partially dried parsley (I used Gourmet Garden)
- ¼ cup of white balsamic vinaigrette (SEE THE RECIPE ON THIS SITE)
- 2 Tablespoons of olive oil, divided
- salt & pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Rub or brush the prepared spaghetti squash with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil.
- Season with salt and pepper and place cut side down on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 50-60 minutes until lightly browned and the flesh is tender when poked with a fork.
- Allow to cool slightly and rake a fork lengthwise over the squash to create strands..
- While the squash is baking, place the remaining Tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saute pan.
- Over medium high heat, add the shallots and sweet potato chunks and cook, stirring occasionally for 15-20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
- Add the ¼ cup of balsamic vinaigrette, cranberries and walnuts and stir to combine.
- Add the squash strands, season with salt & pepper, and toss gently to combine.
- Sprinkle with parsley and parmesan cheese.
- Serve with more parmesan and additional dressing on the side.
- NOTE: You can use a pre cooked sweet potato. Simply cut it into small chunks and add it after sauteing the onions.
All of my salads and dressings are just a starting place for your imagination. So feel free to add or swap ingredients and do what works for you!