What is Aglio e Olio
Originating from Naples, Italy, “spaghetti aglio e olio” translates into “spaghetti with garlic and oil”. It sounds simple, and it is, but it is one our favorite pasta dishes because it’s packed with flavor but only requires a few, simple ingredients.
Even though Naples gets the credit for creating the dish, various versions of this beloved dish can be found in almost every region throughout Italy. Each a little bit different but based on the same traditional recipe.
We think it’s so important to know and honor where a dish comes from but part of the beauty of cooking is seeing all the variations that different regions create based on ingredients in their locations.
Using Spaghetti Squash
While the traditional dish is made with spaghetti (pasta), I wanted to create a veggie dish with the same spicy, garlicky flavor.
Please note that sometimes spaghetti squash as a replacement for pasta but I don’t think it really compares to actual pasta. However, I do like to use it as a hearty side dish. It’s also a great way to pack in extra veggies in a delicious way.
I chose spaghetti squash because –
- it’s in season right now
- it is hearty enough to make a filling dish
- the consistency is similar to spaghetti so you could have as a pasta substitution if desired
How to Cook Spaghetti Squash
I find squash in general so intimidating to cook. Maybe it’s because each one is so different or because they are so tough to get into.
Regardless of the reason, there are a few tips for cooking a spaghetti squash that I’ve come across along the way.
1. Soften the whole squash in the microwave before cutting
After finding this Spaghetti Squash Cooking tip on Teaspoon of Spice’s website, I have saved myself so many near finger slicing incidents!
2. Scoop out the seeds
As with most squash, you need to scoop out the seeds from the center of each halved side before cooking. They come out very easily with a large spoon.
3. Season flesh of spaghetti squash with olive oil and herbs or pepper before roasting
I don’t like using salt before roasting because sometimes it can make the squash a little mushy after cooking. You can also use dried herbs, garlic, red pepper, etc. Whatever flavor you want the squash to have in your finished product.
4. Roast cut side down on a baking sheet
To get a really nice caramelization on your squash, I prefer to roast it cut side down on an unlined baking sheet. Spray it lightly with non-stick spray.
Spaghetti Squash Aglio e Olio Recipe
Just a few simple ingredients – garlic, olive oil, red pepper and parmesan – take this spaghetti squash from blah to oh yeah!
Be careful not to burn the garlic. You want to cook it in the olive oil just until the edges start to brown. Adjust the red pepper flakes to your liking. The amount in the recipe gives it a kick without being overly spicy.
Spaghetti Squash Aglio e Olio
Taking all the same great Spaghetti Aglio e Olio flavors and creating a hearty, veggie squash version for this Mediterraneand diet dish.
- 1 spaghetti squash
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil +1 tablespoon for drizzling
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped Optional, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, lightly spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray
To Cut the Spaghetti Squash
Using a sharp knife, lightly puncture the squash to create a dotted line around the length of the squash (on both sides). You will use this as a guide to cut it in half lengthwise
Microwave the entire squash for 3-5 minutes, until a bit soft. Then carefully use your knife to cut in half lengthwise, using your cut marks from earlier as a guide.
Scoop the seeds out from the center of each half with a large spoon and discard the seeds
Making the Dish
Drizzle the flesh of each squash half with about 1/2 tbsp olive oil and a little bit of pepper
Place the squash halves cut side down on your baking sheet. Place in the oven and roast for 30-40 minutes, until the flesh is tender and slightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool slightly
In a small saucepan, heat 1/2 cup of olive oil over medium heat. Add the thinly sliced garlic and red pepper flakes and saute just until the edges of the garlic start to brown. Stir frequently and turn the heat down to medium low if needed. Once lightly browned at the edges, remove pan from the heat
Once the squash has cooled slightly, use a fork and scrape through each cut half of the squash to create “spaghetti like ribbons”. Continue this scraping motion until the entire squah flesh is cut.
Place the spaghetti like squash ribbons in a large bowl, add the garlic and red pepper infused olive oil and toss to combine
Add the the grated parmesan cheese and chopped parlsey (if desired).
Please note – this recipe serves 4 people when used as a side dish. If you are enjoying as an entree, it would serve 2 people.
As mentioned above, we love enjoying this as a side dish. However, if you want to serve as an entree, some of our favorite variations include –
- Topping with sautéed shrimp or cooked salmon
- Adding mushrooms for a hearty fall flavor
- Including sun dried tomatoes and olives for a mediterranean spin
Check out some other great winter squash recipes below –
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