Winter squash has to be my favorite food of the season, followed up by apples and fresh cranberries. But for the longest time there was one winter squash I never liked, the spaghetti.

For many, the pasta like consistency of cooked spaghetti squash is a welcome alternative to actual pasta. That’s a quality I can appreciate, as it opens the door for creativity. Yet I could never get over its overwhelming blandness. No matter how I cooked and seasoned the squash, it always turned out with zero flavor. And so I wrote it off as the black sheep of the winter squash family.

Until now. Finally, in Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero’s VeganomiconI found a phenomenal spaghetti squash recipe.  The squash is baked until tender, added to a mildly spicy onion, jalapeno, corn and black bean mixture and then topped with a tomato, avocado and tropical fruit salsa. There are many flavor profiles at play here and they all work. It’s anything but bland.

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The other great aspect of this dish is that it takes advantage of several foods that are perfectly in season right now in early October, including onions, tomatoes, peppers and corn. Seriously, make this now, before tomatoes and peppers have completely disappeared.

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As with any dish that requires roasted squash, I suggest taking care of the roasting  in advance. It really simplifies things. Maybe when you’re relaxing the evening before you’d like to use it, just toss the squash in the oven for about an hour.  If you didn’t plan ahead (and I know how that is) and aren’t opposed to the microwave, you could use it to cook the squash a little faster than the oven.

The flavor of the salsa will only get better after chilling, so consider preparing it in advance as well. With the squash and salsa ready to go, this meal could be ready in 20 minutes.

Mexican Spaghetti Squash with Tropical Salsa

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

    • 1 spaghetti squash
For the salsa:
    • 1 cup chopped tomato
    • 1 cup chopped pineapple, mango or papaya
    • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped
    • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, cilantro, mint or basil or any combo thereof
    • Juice of 1 lime
For the bean mixture:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup red wine or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1 1/2 cups black beans (if canned, drained and rinsed)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and place in a baking dish cut side down. Bake until tender and easily pierced with a fork, about 45 minutes. This step can be done up to 3 days in advance.
  2. In a bowl toss all of the salsa ingredients together. Chill until using, which can be up to 2 days in advance.
  3. Heat the oil a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, jalapeno and garlic. Cook about 5 minutes before adding the spices, salt and wine/broth. Cook another 5 minutes. Add the corn and black beans and simmer over low heat until the liquid has reduced and vegetables are tender.
  4. When squash is finished cooking and cool, use a fork to scrape the strands into the pan. Toss with the bean mixture to combine and allow to heat through if the squash was precooked.
  5. Serve in bowls topped with the salsa.

This recipe was adapted (mostly just the seasonings) from Veganomiconan excellent cookbook and resource for vegan and vegetarian cooking.