Harvest squash casserole marries the flavors and textures of fall into a beautiful, delicious side dish.
In 1991, just a few years after we were married, we stopped by the local grocery store for a couple of things. In the front of the store was a large display of Robert Mondavi wine.
I picked up a bottle of Chardonnay, and hanging from the neck of the bottle was an entry form for the “Robert Mondavi Great Italian Recipe Contest”. The first place prize was a trip to Italy, so on a lark I decided to enter the contest. I’d have to work quickly, the deadline for the contest was less than 10 days away.
With less than a week to go before the deadline, and no “World Wide Web” at the time, I’d have to rely on snail mail. I’m not sure what compelled me to pick up a spaghetti squash, since I’d never actually cooked one before. I threw together a dish, which Spencer thought tasted good.
It was the fall and I was thinking my harvest-y thoughts, so I named it, “Harvest Squash” and popped the recipe in the mail.
I ended up making it for Thanksgiving that year, and then pretty much forgot about the contest. In March of the next year, a letter came from Mondavi, telling me that I was one of five contestants who placed second in the contest. I would be receiving a check for $1,000. To a young married couple living in a 700 square foot apartment, this was a windfall!
I knew exactly what I wanted to do with a small portion of the prize money. I wanted one of those new-fangled cordless telephones so I could talk on the phone and cook at the same time, without being tethered to the wall!
You can cook spaghetti squash several ways. You can slice it in half, from pole to pole, and bake for about an hour. This method produces shorter, bite-sized strands. Or slice on the “equator”, which cuts the cooking time down, and produces longer “spaghetti” strands. A third method is to cover and steam the squash halves in the microwave for about 10-15 minutes, depending on the size.
This harvest squash casserole is a great vegetarian side dish. To make it vegan-friendly, omit the butter and cheese and double the olive oil.
- 1 spaghetti squash
- 3 large zucchini finely shredded, about 4 cups
- 3 large carrots finely shredded, about 3 cups
- 8 cloves of garlic minced
- 1 bunch fresh thyme chopped
- 1 bunch fresh parsley chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh parmesan or pecorino romano cheese grated
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- Kosher salt and white pepper to taste
Cut spaghetti squash in 1" slices and place on a baking sheet. Oven: place in a baking dish and cover with foil, cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour at 350*F. Microwave: Cover halves with plastic wrap and place in a dish in an inch or so of water and cook on high for about 10 minutes. Flesh should easily fall away from sides in strands.
Heat olive oil and butter in a heavy skillet on medium heat. Add minced garlic and saute briefly.
Add shredded zucchini and carrots and saute a couple more minutes.
Next, add fresh herbs, salt and pepper, and saute another minute.
Toss cooked spaghetti squash with zucchini and carrots in a separate bowl or serving dish with cheese. Check seasoning.
Serves 12 as a side dish. It can be made a day ahead and reheated.