Consider Smoking Spaghetti Squash For A Flavor Explosion

The secret ingredient to elevating your spaghetti squash recipes isn't technically an ingredient at all — it's a smoker. What makes spaghetti squash the perfect fit for a smoker is the very thing that often (tragically) causes this delicate summer squash to be overlooked: It has a mild flavor compared to butternut squash. But, mildness qualifies spaghetti squash as something of a culinary chameleon, taking on the flavors of whatever sauces or seasonings you add. (This is the part where you fire up the smoker.)

In the grocery store or farmer's market, look for squash with firm skin and no soft spots. Once you bring it home and give it a good scrub, grab a chef's knife and halve that squash lengthwise. Then, de-seed and brush with olive oil and salt. If you'd rather season it with a dry rub, allow the rub to sit on the squash for at least 15 minutes before smoking to aid the absorption. Once seasoned, simply throw that spaghetti squash on your smoker and cook at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 ½ hours, or at 300 degrees for roughly an hour. You get to control the level of smokiness here. To test its doneness, gently squish the sides with a pair of tongs. If the squash feels soft all the way through, it's ready.

Smoke your way to exciting veggies

You can use spaghetti squash anywhere you might use angel hair pasta. It's a great entrée for vegan or gluten-free eaters, and a good way to incorporate more vegetables into your diet while pleasing picky palates. And after a brief tenure in the smoker, spaghetti squash can be just as culinarily exciting as utilitarian.

Whip up a smoky spaghetti squash lasagna or bake it into a savory pie with shaved zucchini and ricotta cheese. For an impressive and quick dinner, add a smoky flair to this spaghetti squash with sage and walnuts. You could also puree smoked squash into a savory bisque, or stir it into mac and cheese with a sprinkle of paprika. For a midday snack, you could tuck smoked spaghetti squash into a pupusa with mozzarella. Put it in a fresh salad with peppery arugula and dried cranberries, or simply cube it and enjoy it with grilled corn on the cob.

Keep in mind that the type of wood you choose for your smoker will impact the squash's flavor. Oak, apple, and pecan all impart a lightly sweet flavor that pair well with spaghetti squash. Steer clear of stronger-tasting woods like hickory and mesquite. These might be ideal for adding a delicious smoky flavor to meats, but they'll quickly overpower the delicate vegetable. (If you don't own a smoker, don't despair. Alton Brown has a genius tip for DIY-ing one at home with a heavy duty cardboard box.)