Eat More Plants: Chilled Spaghetti Squash Salad (Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Sugar Free)
I know spaghetti squash was SO last year (or maybe even two or three years ago), but I’m still trying to bring scrunchies back, so I’m certainly not going to let a lack of trendiness stop me from eating something. Anything that can sit on my counter for an entire month and still be edible, definitely wins in my book. It’s one of those real food items that you can count on to be there for you when a five minute grocery store stop just feels like the most taxing task in the entire world. “Oh! I still have that spaghetti squash from three weeks ago. Yessss, I WILL make it home in time to watch re-runs of Friends on TBS…”
A few months ago, a friend made me a chilled spaghetti squash salad and it blew my mind. I’ve always been a big fan of Italian pasta salad, and his spaghetti squash really reminded me of it. Also, it just hit me…why am I not making veggie-loaded whole wheat pasta salads?! Okay, that’ll be next.
Anyways, I didn’t get the recipe, so I had to wing it, and for once it didn’t take me a million tries to get something right in the cooking department (baking is really more my thing). Making some plant-based progress over here! What I’m finding is that as you progress through plant-based cooking, you start to learn more and more about flavor combinations and what different oils, spices, herbs, and ingredients will bring to your dish. It gets really exciting when you don’t need to pull out a recipe, and instead can look at what you have in your pantry and fridge and whip something up from scratch. You start taking a lot of pride in what you can put together – yet another cool thing about this journey with real food!
It might seem a little odd to be throwing together a summer-like pasta dish, when it’s so frigid outside. I’ve never used the word frigid before, but that’s really the only way to describe what’s happening across the entire country right now. Spaghetti squash is in fact a winter squash, and available right now at your farmers market or grocery store, so you are eating with the season! Don’t worry though, you can find spaghetti squash year round, and with that said, I’d definitely recommend this salad as a side dish for an outdoor party since it’s chilled and easy to transport. Or it works great as leftovers in your fridge that you eat a bite or two of every 30 minutes (#happeningnow).
If you’re familiar with roasting spaghetti squash, just skip to the recipe. But, if you’re looking at this weird shaped squash on your counter without a clue as to what to do next (that was me!), here are some pics to help. Then, let me know what you think and share your version with me on Instagram with #eatmoreplants and #kalemekristie.
Roasting a spaghetti squash is SUPER simple.
First, cut it in half down the middle lengthwise. It takes a little muscle, but definitely not like a butternut squash…the worst! Then scrape out and discard the seeds and gooey stuff like you’d do when carving a pumpkin, until it looks like the half on the left below.
Once scraped clean, drizzle some olive oil on both halves and sprinkle on some salt. Then flip it so the cut-side is down on a pan and roast it in the oven for 45ish minutes at 425 degrees.
You’ll know it’s done when you can easily scrape the “spaghetti” from the outer skin, like this:
Let it cool completely, then throw it in a bowl with other veggies of your choice. This recipe calls for red onion, red and green pepper, and black beans.
Next, whip up the dressing. I like to keep my dressings super simple, free of sugar and dairy. This particular dressing recipe is heavy on the apple cider vinegar, which I love. They say it’s great for your microbiome, and I’m definitely not one of those champs who can drink a tablespoon straight, so I try to get it in wherever I can. If it has a little too much of a cider kick for you, just cut back on the proportions.
Pour the dressing over your salad, and mix it all together. If you’re taking this to a picnic and want all your friends to think you’re the coolest, scoop it back into the empty spaghetti squash shells. But let’s be real, it’s probably for lunch at work tomorrow, so just dump it in a tupperware container and throw it in the fridge. 🙂