Monday, September 22, 2014

Herbed Brown Butter Spaghetti Squash

Summer leaves us, taking with her all the flirtatious and vivid fruits and vegetables which are replaced by fall's more secretive bounty. The color scheme of the variety changes from reds and blues to oranges and browns. Tender young summer squashes are blended in with their rustic cousins like the acorn, butternut, and spaghetti squash. Roots and tubers begin to make their hearty appearance as the cold weather moves in as if giving us sustenance to greet the winter.

During the transition from the hot summer months and the freeze of the winter is a milder changing climate where we will find spaghetti squash readily available along with some of summer's lingering fresh herbs. I would like to share with you a simple recipe as a healthy lunch or dinner, or as a side dish to a larger meal, should the occasion arise during the holidays.

Herbed Brown Butter Spaghetti Squash
Serves 2 as an entree or 4 as a side.

1 medium size spaghetti squash, split in half and seeds removed.
1 shallot, minced.
5 sprigs of fresh Italian parsley, chopped.
3 sprigs of fresh marjoram (or 1 sprig oregano), minced.
1/2 cup unsalted butter.
Juice of 1/2 lemon.
1 Tbsp. olive oil.
salt and freshly ground black pepper.

optional additions (one or a combination of the following)
2 tsp. capers, rinsed.
2 Tbsp. pitted and sliced cured green olives.
1 Tbsp. sun dried tomatoes, chopped.


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

 2. Split your squash in half lengthwise from stem to tail. This can be tricky since the squash has a tough, rounded exterior. Use a dish towel to cradle the squash as you lay it end to end (left to right) in front of you. Pierce the squash in the middle with the tip of your chef's knife pushing firmly down on the handle to finish a cut through either end. Turn squash and repeat.

3. With a large metal spoon scoop out the seeds and soft stringy bits in each half. Do not dig into the flesh. Discard or save the seeds to roast for a snack!

4. Rub the cut side and interior of your squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place squash cut side down on a baking sheet or dish. You can treat your pan with oil or line with foil if you want but it is not necessary. We are not adding water to this recipe as some call for since we will be cooking our squash a second time later.

In this picture I am preparing a double recipe
for four people hence double the squash.

5. Transfer the squash to the oven and roast for around 20-25 minutes before checking. Your squash will be ready to remove from the oven when you can easily push a fork through the outside skin of the squash through to the interior. When you can do this remove the squash from the oven and let it cool.

6. Once the squash is cool enough to handle, hold the squash upright on a cutting board and begin to scrape out the flesh starting gently at the top. As you begin to remove the "noodles" of squash you want to continue to scrape from the perimeter of you cut edge to the inside, pulling the strands of squash away from the skin.

*Note: The more deliberate you are to make continuous scoops, as opposed to making several thrashing motions, the longer your squash spaghetti will be!
I prefer to use a large fork
(left) which gets more
 squash out with little thrashing. 

Stating at the top with deliberate motion.

Pulling from the outside in to the center.

One down one to go.

7. Reserve the squash in a bowl.

8. Add the butter to a large sauté pan and melt over medium-high heat. As it melts swirl or stir it around as it starts to brown and bubble.

Notice the browning quickly begins while the
butter is still not completely melted.
9. Turn heat down to medium heat. As the butter continues to bubble and foam on the surface more intensely you will want to keep swirling or string your pan to encourage carmelization of the butter solids but not allow them to sit and burn. You will begin to notice a caramel-like smell and some darkened bits at the bottom of your pan. This is good!

Once the butter is completely melted it is hard
to see those browning bits under the foam so
stirring or swirling is needed to avoid burning.
10. Once the solids (bits) on the bottom of the pan have become a caramel color and you can smell their sweet flavor, turn the heat to low and toss in your shallots. Sauté the shallots for one minute.

As the butter continues to cook you can begin to see
the solids at the bottom. Notice how they are a
nice caramel brown?
11. Add the lemon juice and half of the herbs to the pan. Season with some salt and pepper.

12. Add your spaghetti squash to the pan, season with some additional salt and pepper and the remaining herbs. Toss your squash with the browned butter.

13. Heat your spaghetti squash, gently mixing as to not break the noodles (I use 2 spoons) coating them with the herbed browned butter sauce.

In this picture I have made a double recipe
for four people.

14. Serve your Herbed Brown Butter Spaghetti Squash as you like. As a main or side dish. Try adding the suggested additions or some of your own favorite.
For my light dinner I paired my spaghetti with
glazed beets.



  1. Yum! Butternut squash is one of my favorite vegetables. It is so versatile and easy to make. I even started making large batches at one time and freezing it for nights I am short on time. It doesn't freeze the greatest, but in a pinch it works just fine. I need to branch out from my norm and try adding different combinations of spices. Your capers suggestion sounds delicious.

    1. Squash really is quite versatile. I regret to say that I forget how much I enjoy it until the fall when it becomes abundant.

      I do like pairing contrasting flavors and textures with butternut, spaghetti, acorn squash as well as yams and sweets. Salty accents like capers, cured olives or tangy aged cheeses like Pecorino Romano or Ricotta Solata are delicious; sun dried tomatoes add a nice tang, toasted nuts or pomegranate seeds a great texture and fresh herbs are great for cutting the richness.

      Thank you for your comment!

  2. What a great variation - I've been making "spaghetti" for far too long. It's time to change it up - this recipe gave me perfect inspiration. The glazed beets look terrific. Recipe for those, perhaps?

  3. I will have to try this. I love spaghetti squash and this sounds like a great variation.

  4. Thanks for sharing the recipe and I love how you included the photos of your steps. I can absolutely taste it
    spaghetti squash is such a healthy swap for any number of carb dishes. You can really dress it up or just spritz it with olive oil and sprinkle on lemon pepper. Depends on what else you are serving