Greek Spaghetti Squash Salad
A wonderful alternative to the boring mediocrity that is the average pasta salad.
Serves: 4 (as a side dish) • Prep Time: N/A • Cook Time: N/A
Greek Spaghetti Squash Salad
Cold salads featuring cooked vegetables are a mixed bag. At their best they’re typically pretty “meh”, and at their worst they’re almost a crime against humanity, (or, at the very least, a crime against picnics). Almost everyone will know what I’m talking about: those unappealing, simultaneously raw-and-yet-overcooked combinations of vegetables and seasonings that are brought to family get-togethers by your least favorite aunt or second cousin. It’s the stuff behind the deli counter at the supermarket that nobody ever seems to buy, and which looks as if it’s comprised of about 10% vegetables you’d actually want to eat and 90% of what looks like old cardboard and overcooked pasta.
Side dishes of this variety are pretty grim and it’s a shame, particularly when you consider that every serving of vegetables you skip at a picnic is probably compensated for by an equal (or greater) serving of potato chips. It’s also not all that surprising when people have difficulty with these types of side dishes. Preparing cold salads, and especially cold vegetable salads, can be a challenge. Many vegetables need to be cooked specific ways to bring out their best aspects, and prepping can be time consuming and frustrating for those with both poor equipment (such as blunt or too-small knives) and a lack of knife skills. Compound all of this with the fact that people are generally unenthusiastic about vegetables and it adds up to a situation where people skip healthy side dishes entirely. Nobody wants to be the person who shows up with a potluck dish that never ends up having its foil lid fully removed.
This dish is a riff off of the classic (and usually terrible) Greek-style pasta salad. Gone is the tri-colored fusilli and in its place is spaghetti squash. Not only does this radically reduce the caloric content of the dish, it also takes a tired tradition and turns it into something new and unique.
I’m happy to say that the following recipe will make sure that doesn’t happen.
This dish is a riff off of the classic (and usually terrible) Greek-style pasta salad. Gone is the tri-colored fusilli and in its place is spaghetti squash. Not only does this radically reduce the caloric content of the dish, it also takes a tired tradition and turns it into something new and unique. The spaghetti squash, when chilled, takes on a very nice and unusual texture, and also removes some of the vegetal pungency that can make squash seem unappetizing. Add in peppers, onions, cucumber, herbs, seasoning, a simple vinegar dressing, and feta cheese and you have a cold dish that can almost be eaten as a meal by itself (which is what I did last night).
*A note on feta: As embarrassing as it is to admit, I’m no stranger to using pre-crumbled feta. It’s convenient for sure, and the consistency is very easy to use when, for example, sprinkling it in salads. However, crumbled, industrial feta is quite a different beast when compared to traditional feta, and the truth is that, basically, you shouldn’t be using it. The kind of feta that you might find at a cheesemonger, or even in a good olive bar at an upscale supermarket, is packed in brine and (if it’s the real deal) has been aged for at least a couple of months. Much like with pre-shredded parmesan, it’s difficult to get a sense of both the provenance and quality of packaged crumbled feta. Feta sold in this way is also guaranteed to be at least partially dehydrated, as retaining the customary brine and moisture would either turn the crumbles into goo or would quickly lead to the growth of mold.
Feta is naturally crumbly, even when sold in brine-soaked blocks, and buying a solid block and crumbling it yourself is definitely the way to go. It will taste better, will likely cost less per pound, and will require very little additional effort.
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Begin the recipe by adding three cups of cooked spaghetti squash into a large mixing bowl. In every other instance the spaghetti squash recipes here at Forq call for the liquid to be squeezed out of the squash prior to using it. In this case, we want to keep the liquid. When your cooked and unsqueezed spaghetti squash is chilled, the liquid inherent in the spaghetti squash actually serves to beef up the size of the strands and imparts additional flavor. Simply cook your spaghetti squash the day before and chill it in the fridge overnight prior to shredding.
Next, add onion, bell pepper, cucumber, parsley, and oregano to the bowl. Fold together using a silicone spatula or other similar implement. Note that you’re going to fold this together rather than mixing it, as a typical mixing motion will mush up the squash. Instead, use a folding/turning motion with a spatula to incorporate the ingredients evenly. When this is done, season the surface of the salad evenly with salt and pepper and dress with red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Add the crumbled feta and fold to combine. Serve immediately, or store in the fridge for up to two hours. If you would like to store this dish for longer, wait to add the feta until just before serving.
Here’s how to make this delicious recipe
Place your cooked spaghetti squash, onion, bell pepper, cucumber, parsley, and oregano in a large mixing bowl. Combine using a silicone spatula or other similar tool, taking care to fold the ingredients together so that they mix evenly.
Distribute the salt and pepper evenly over the surface of the vegetable mixture and add vinegar and olive oil to the bowl. Add the crumbled feta. Mix to combine and serve immediately.
Add the crumbled feta and mix to combine
If you want to make the salad ahead, wait to incorporate the feta until just before serving.
- 3 cups of cooked spaghetti squash refrigerated overnight with the liquid not squeezed out prior to chilling
- 1/3 cup sweet onion finely chopped
- 1/2 cup yellow or orange bell pepper diced
- 1/2 cup hothouse cucumber diced
- 3 tbsp parsley chopped
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta
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Who’s Cooking Today
Jacob Dean is a freelance food and travel writer, recipe tester, and culinary product reviewer based in Washington, D.C. He is a regular contributor to The Cook’s Cook Magazine, DCist, Industree, has freelanced as a recipe tester for the New York Times, and has been published by the Washington Post. Jacob has tried over twelve hundred unique beers (he keeps count).
You can find him online at jacobdeanwrites.com, on Twitter as @SchadenJake, and on Facebook as Jacob Dean Writes.
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