Short. Limp. Lackluster. It’s how most of us would describe the too often disappointing attempts to transform spaghetti squash into something even remotely approximating our favorite Italian carbohydrate. Little did we know, the first step to getting it right is all a matter of how you cut it.
It’s a lesson we learned from Steven Satterfield, chef at Miller Union in Atlanta, where farm-to-table dining blends modern and Southern sensibilities. Years ago, Satterfield noticed that the fibers in the pale-yellow flesh of spaghetti squash spiral in a circular direction around the seedy core; they don’t run stem-to-stem, the direction most of us cut. Turns out, this matters. A lot.
“I just looked at the structure of the vegetable, which I think about a lot,” says Satterfield, who—appropriately—studied architecture.
His cutting method is unique, but his cooking method follows tradition, roasting the halves cut side down with a bit of water. Once tender, the strands pull free easily with a fork into long, tender “noodles.”
In his book, “Root to Leaf,” Satterfield marries this improved roasting technique with a subtly flavored cream sauce that evokes a Tuscan butter and sage pasta. Thyme and nutmeg lend the sauce an herbal depth for a satisfying dish with a light touch that allows the squash flavor to shine.
For our version, we punch up the flavor by adding toasted pumpkin seeds for texture and brighten the sauce with both lemon juice and zest. Chopped parsley adds fresh notes, and the saltiness of Parmesan evokes that cozy feeling from a bowl of cheesy pasta.
With bold flavor and a simple slicing solution, we managed to treat spaghetti squash the way it deserves.