I’m absolutely in love with this dish. I’ve been making a variation of it for the last year or so, and it always makes for a perfect dinner. Satisfying, wholesome, and flavourful, it can be ready in under 40 minutes but tastes (and looks) like it took two hours. The marriage of classic Italian flavours – parsley, basil, olive oil, and sundried tomatoes – with the rather more Canadian textures of the squash and fiddleheads is really quite exciting. On weeknights it makes for an indulgent-feeling meal, but since there’s no pasta, it’s hardly an indulgence in the usual sense of the word. You’ll be full without feeling overly stuffed, which is something I will always endorse.
This dish works really well for company as well. It’s unusual enough that your guests will be suitably impressed and intrigued, but rustic enough that it’s not alienating, particularly for those new to vegetarian cuisine. You’ll also have a very low-stress main course on your hands. The sauce can be cooked well ahead of time, so all you have to do is throw the squash in the oven while you prepare whatever else you’re serving, reheat, and you’re good to go.
I may have mentioned this in my travel blogs, but while we were backpacking in Europe I would have killed for some spaghetti squash so I could make this very dish! I literally scoured every market we passed in the hopes that someone would have them on offer, often being momentarily mislead (and subsequently disappointed) by a particularly large and yellow batch of melons. But they were nowhere to be found, in any of the 9 countries we visited, so all I could do was pine away until we got back to Canada. This was one of the first dinners I made when we got back.
This particular variation is highly seasonal, as fiddleheads are only around for a short while, but they make the dish taste really special. The rest of the year, I use asparagus instead, which is a very close cousin in both taste and texture. If you can get your hands on some fiddleheads I highly recommend scooping them up! To make the most of their too-brief season, buy in bulk, then steam them before tossing into small ziplock bags and freezing so you can enjoy throughout the year. They are great in omelettes or eaten on their own with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.
Spaghetti Squash + Fiddlehead Pasta Primavera (serves 4)
~ gluten free, vegan, grain free, soy free, nut free, sugar free ~
- 2 small spaghetti squash (about 2 lbs each)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 large leek, sliced
- 1/2 lb fiddleheads
- 1 cup shelled green peas (fresh or frozen)
- 3/4 cup oil-packed sundried tomatoes, drained (about 10)
- sea salt and black pepper
- 1/3 cup vegan pesto (I used this basil pesto)
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a baking dish with parchment paper.
- Slice off the tops and bottoms of the squash, cut it in half lengthwise, and remove the seeds. Rub with a little bit of olive oil and place on the parchment paper cut side down.
- Roast until tender, about 25 minutes. Cook time will vary depending on the size of your squash.
- In the meantime, prepare a double boiler and thoroughly wash the fiddleheads, removing the tough woody ends (similar to trimming asparagus).
- Steam until just tender, about 10 minutes, then run under some cold water and set aside. A quick ice bath would be great here, but isn’t essential.
- Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat, then add the garlic and sliced leeks. Cook until they are soft, about 5 minutes.
- Season with sea salt and black pepper, then add the sundried tomatoes, fiddleheads, and peas. Cook for about 2 minutes, until everything is heated through, then add the pesto and cook for a further 2 minutes.
- When the squash are ready, remove from the oven and set aside to cool for a few minutes.
- Use a fork to shred the squash into “spaghetti” and transfer to a pasta dish or bowl – each person should get half a squash (or less if you used very large squash).
- Divide the pasta sauce amongst the four plates and garnish with some fresh parsley or basil.