I have not cooked nearly enough squash this winter, and I love squash. Squash can be used to create some very interesting combinations. Dishes made with squash can be lower-calorie without feeling like spa food. You see, I have returned to the lighter side, once again.
Spaghetti squash is particularly unique. Whoever opened a spaghetti squash up for the first time and cooked it must have been quite surprised by the noodle-like texture.
I’m sure you all are familiar with spaghetti squash. It does share similarities with noodles (thin rice noodles or vermicelli maybe), but no one is going to get the two confused. The texture is much wetter, even with straining, but the flavor is pretty mild so that it can take on whatever you use for a sauce. I liked the idea of using squash as the noodle for a pad thai preparation. For the record, I looked it up and calling it Pad Thai is not a misnomer–according to Merriam Webster online the literal translation is “Thai stir-fried mixture.” It doesn’t have to have rice noodles to be called pad thai.
In fact, pad thai can incorporate a variety of vegetables. You may see in the original recipe that it called for a red pepper, which I didn’t have, so I left that out. I think the key ingredients here are the bean sprouts, green onion, cilantro, lime, and egg. I love peanuts and enjoy them in pad thai, but I’m not sure they are even required. What do you think “makes” pad thai?
Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai
From A Couple Cooks
Make 4 generous servings
1 large spaghetti squash
1 bunch green onions
½ Cup fresh cilantro, chopped
3-4 small carrots, fewer if they are large
4 cloves garlic
2 whole eggs
1.5 Cups bean sprouts, divided
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil, preferably peanut
3 Tablespoons sweet chili sauce
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
Sriracha to taste (I don’t suggest leaving it out!)
½ Cup roasted salted peanuts, chopped
Preheat to 400°F. Cut the spaghetti squash in half carefully–you’ll need a large, sharp knife. Scrape out the seeds and guts. Drizzle olive oil over cut sides and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place the squash cut side down on a baking sheet and cook until tender and easily pierced with a knife, about 45 minutes.
When the squash is done, scrape out the flesh of each half. Place the “noodles” in a colander to drain out some of the liquid for at least 10 minutes or as long as you are finishing other prep.
Meanwhile, get lots of prep bowls ready to facilitate mise en place.
Peel and shred carrots. Mince garlic. Thinly slice green onions and add to bowl with garlic, reserving about 1 green onion’s worth in a different bowl. Chop the cilantro and set aside in its own bowl, or combine with reserved green onions.
In a small bowl, beat together two eggs.
In another small bowl, mix together the sauce: 3 tablespoons sweet chili sauce, 3 tablespoons soy sauce, juice of ½ lime, a few squirts of sriracha.
Next, heat 2 Tablespoons oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add the garlic and green onions and cook about 45 seconds, until fragrant. Pour in the eggs and scramble until almost cooked.
Add the crunchy vegetables (carrots and 1 Cup of the bean sprouts in this case) and squash noodles. Add 3 pinches kosher salt and toss together. Add the sauce and stir to combine.
Cook until the vegetables are heated through, about 5 minutes.
Garnish with plenty of crushed peanuts, fresh bean sprouts, and chopped cilantro and green onion.
It struck me as ironic that the week after a “Bacon Optional” post, I cooked something vegetarian and almost vegan, minus the eggs. I swear it wasn’t intentional!
Also, I was very surprised to find my husband was interested in eating this. Have I not yet divulged his history of reluctance toward fruits and vegetables? Well, when I told him I was planning to make this vegetable-heavy dish for dinner later that night, I totally assumed he would opt to eat something else, but instead he said “I’ll eat that.”
“Even the bean sprouts,” I asked? Yes, even the bean sprouts. But don’t ask him to eat an orange. Ugh.