If you’re looking for a good way to eat a lot of vegetables in a hurry (and actually enjoy them), you’ve come to the right place. This is a solid, straightforward stir fry with loads of fresh veggies in a super tasty peanut sauce, and by swapping spaghetti squash for a rice or pasta base, it basically doubles your serving of vegetables.
Now, a note about spaghetti squash. People get really exuberant about this stuff; almost evangelical. And I see why; it’s neat! Pulling the cooked flesh away from the rind and watching it magically separate itself into neat, pasta-like strands is a little bit unbelievable. But, I feel compelled to add a small reality check: it tastes like squash. (Not too surprising for a squash, I hope?) It does not taste or look identical to spaghetti. So, you know, if you expect to serve this to a lucid adult and convince them that it’s pasta… well, your mileage may vary depending on the adult, but maybe just don’t get too cocky about what is possible.
Now, that said, the point of pasta in most dishes is to be a blank canvas for the other flavors on the plate. It doesn’t have a super strong flavor of its own, and that’s also true of spaghetti squash. It’s pleasant, mild, a little nutty in the way that squash is nutty, and great at soaking up other flavors. This recipe is a perfect example of how to use spaghetti squash well. A good variety of fresh veggies are stir-fried in a neutral oil (he suggests coconut oil), and then the whole mess is smothered in a spicy, savory Asian-inspired sauce.
I pretty much approve of everything about this recipe. I’d never stir fried in coconut oil before; the flavor was mostly overwhelmed by the peanut sauce, but I did catch a hint of it, and it was lovely and light. The sauce doesn’t have too many ingredients (a complaint I sometimes have with this kind of sauce), and many are pantry staples you’re likely to have on hand and can use in many other Asian recipes.
The vegetables he suggests all go great together, but of course you can modify it to use what you have on hand. I had broccoli, carrots, and sugar snap peas (used for pasta primavera earlier in the week); I threw in all the rest of those, plus some roasted red peppers from the other week.
The only thing that might give me pause if I’m thinking of making this again is the prep time. I find his 20 minute estimate to be a little short (as I often do with Macheesmo); he must be some kind of super-fast ninja chopper. When I got into the kitchen and remembered that the first step was 40 minutes of squash roasting, I thought, crap… I wish I’d started this sooner. But I shouldn’t have worried, because I was still finishing the sauce and stir fry when the squash came out of the oven. I happened to glance at the oven timer as I was dumping the first veggies into the skillet, so I know that the prep for veggies and sauce took me exactly 30 minutes. This includes the whole deal: washing veggies, throwing out the produce bags, chopping everything, throwing out the vegetable detritus, getting jars out of the cabinet, pulling up the recipe multiple times to double check the measurements, and measuring all the sauce ingredients into the pot. (I did burn four minutes on stirring up a new jar of peanut butter, in fairness. I never ever rush this, because if your peanut butter isn’t fully mixed the first time you use it, your oil-to-peanut ratio is off… FOREVER! Or at least for the life of the jar. I worry about these things.)
Anyway, it was about 30 minutes of getting-stuff-together for both sauce and veggies, and 10 minutes of actual time on the stove. So everything was wrapping up at about the time the squash came out. Which was convenient on the one hand, but on the other, making the squash ahead wouldn’t have really bought me anything.
Even so, it tasted great – very savory and satisfying. I like squash, so I wouldn’t have minded either way, but with the sauce and all the other vegetable flavors I didn’t notice it much. I left the egg off because I had a late lunch and wasn’t hungry enough for it, but I added one to the leftovers the next day, and it was even more delicious. Super filling and reasonably healthy; definitely a winner overall, even if it did take a while.
Deliciousness score: 8/10
Easiness score: 7/10