Botany: Flex your culinary muscle and impress your guests with this tasty recipe for roasted spaghetti squash

The word squash is derived from the native term “askutasquash,” which means, “eat it raw or eat it cooked.”

What does a zucchini and an acorn squash have in common? Genetically speaking, everything. Pumpkins, summer squash, spaghetti squash, pattypan, delicata, acorn squash and zucchinis are all domesticated variants of the same species of the new world vine cucurbita pepo. So the difference between a pumpkin and most squashes is equivalent to the difference between a great dane and a dachshund.

The most biologically diverse of the winter squash varieties is the butternut squash, which shares the the same Genus as the other fruits, though it belongs to the species moschata (those funky long crooked necked gourds are also of the species moschata). During the summer, I love to stuff the blossoms with ricotta and mint or prosciutto and figs and lightly fry them. But with winter setting in, here is a hearty idea of what to do with one the fruits of these wonderful pepos:

Roasted Spaghetti Squash

With Roasted Garlic, Shiitakes, Kale, and Prairie Breeze

• 1 head of garlic
• 1 medium spaghetti squash
• 8oz Milton Creamery Prairie Breeze aged cheddar shredded
• 1 cup Shiitakes (choose mushrooms with smaller stems, bigger caps)
• 1 bunch lacinato kale
• 1 small shallot
• Smoked salt
• Black pepper
• Thyme
• Butter
• Olive oil

Take a whole head of garlic and peel away most of the husk but keep some so as to keep the garlic intact. Snip the top with scissors in such a way that you expose the tips of the cloves within the husk. Pour a little olive oil on the head and wrap it in aluminum foil. Roast for 40 minutes at 400° F. Let it cool for a while. The cloves should be brown and mushy.

With a sturdy knife, saw the spaghetti squash in half. Gently scoop out any seeds. These can be saved and salted and roasted as a snack if you are so inclined. Squirt a little olive oil and smear a little butter on the halves and sprinkle with salt and pepper and a little of the fresh thyme. Cover the halves with aluminum foil and roast at 400° F for 30 minutes. Then, remove the foil and continue roasting uncovered for an additional 15 minutes.

While the squash and garlic are roasting, mince the shallot and fry at a low heat with a little bit of oil. Remove the tough stems of the shiitakes and slice them into thin strips and add them to the pan with the shallots and fry until they are soft. Chop or rip the kale into little bits and add it the pan. Cook covered on medium heat for six minutes, stirring occasionally. The kale will add some liquid to the mixture.

When the squash is cool scrape out the flesh with a fork. You’ll see why they call it spaghetti squash as the flesh peels away in noodle-like strips. Mix in the roasted garlic and the kale, shallots, and mushrooms. Top with the cheese for a dank meal.

Did you know:

The word squash is derived from the Native Tribe of Massachusetts word “askutasquash,” which means, “eat it raw or eat it cooked.” Early accounts also describe Native Americans cutting gourds and pumpkins into strips and preparing them through a process of hanging outdoors and drying for winter usage. This could be explain the word for “pumpkin,” which comes from the French missionaries’ term “pompion,” which means, “eaten when dried in the sun.”

This article originally appeared in Little Village issue 188.

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