My favorite side dish at the moment is spaghetti squash with Parmigiano-Reggiano and truffle salt. It’s super easy, and it’s warm plate of veggies. It excites me more than it probably should, and it helped soothe my nerves tremendously this week while I was studying for a calculus test.
I cut the squash into quarters. No need to peel, or cut the squash smaller. Throw it in a pot with a inch or so of water and let it steam until tender. Scoop out the flesh with a big soup spoon. I love how it looks so smooth and untouched, then becomes stringy and separate when you dig into it.
I toss it with a bit of fruity extra virgin olive oil to moisten it. A sprinkling of Parmigiano-Reggiano, along with a liberal dusting of truffle salt (from The Filling Station in Chelsea Market), finishes it off. The resulting dish is comforting. The squash is a bit crunchy, so you don’t get bored while you’re chewing, but also soft in that homey way. The olive oil adds richness, the Parmigiano adds a lovely nutty, melty quality, and the truffle salt adds an earthy perfume that elevates everything.
Honestly, I don’t think I love the squash as much as I love the salt. It makes everything taste good, from steak (which I don’t like without some sort of coarse or flavored salt or sauce; I’m not a steak purist) to butternut squash to mashed potatoes and rice and basically anything that you would want to put salt on.
If the power of the truffle salt doesn’t knock you off your feet (or you don’t have a lovely mom who buys $$$$ truffle salt), you can add garlic (raw or roasted or garlic salt) and/or herbs. I like the zing of a minced clove of raw garlic mixed into one squash’s worth of meat, though that’s probably not for everyone. If you are not pro-raw garlic, you can add a roasted clove of garlic or set a pan with the squash flesh over a medium flame with a clove or two of minced garlic. Herbage wise, I think oregano, thyme or basil goes lovely with it. It makes the squash seem a little healthier (amongst the cheese and salt and fat and goodness), and adds another layer of flavor. Dried or fresh work; just be careful not to overdo it (I accidently spilled a ton of dill over my roasted carrots the other day and ended up washing most of the offending substance off).
Spaghetti squash with Parmigiano-Reggiano and truffle salt is a great for a tired weekday night. Or even a quick, last-minute Thanksgiving side when you have more people in your house than you thought would be there. In any case, make it, devour, then thank me later.