Thai Spaghetti Squash Salad
A perfect dish for a hot summer day, this cold spaghetti squash salad is sweet, sour, and tangy.
Serves: N/A • Prep Time: N/A • Cook Time: N/A
Thai Spaghetti Squash Salad
Green papaya salad is a special dish. Papaya in its ripened stage, a deep, rich shade of orange (think the color of aged gouda and you won’t be far off), has an almost candy-like sweetness and could not be farther away from its un-ripened stage. Where ripe papaya is decidedly dessert-like, green papaya is…well, seemingly inedible. Crunchy and yet spongy, it is so bland you’d wonder how anyone could ever had discovered that it’s worth consuming. However, add in sugar, salt, vinegar, chili peppers, and herbs, and it is transformed.
The problem is that green papaya is not actually always available. In trying to make a green papaya salad, I discovered after beginning my prep that what I thought was a green papaya was actually a ripe one. Looking for inspiration (and not wanting to have to find a store that actually carries the green variety) I turned to my fridge to find a substitute. Luckily, some leftover cooked spaghetti squash was living in a container in my fridge, and this recipe was born.
The sauce for the green papaya salad is exactly the sort of thing that pairs well with chilled spaghetti squash.
Now, it’s true that spaghetti squash and papayas do not share a lot of the same characteristics. However, the sauce for the green papaya salad is exactly the sort of thing that pairs well with chilled spaghetti squash, and having a sweet, peppery, vinegary side salad (that’s healthy to boot) is still a victory, even if it’s a pretty significant adaptation. In some ways this dish is more of an ode-to-green-papaya-salad, but I’m very happy with how it turned out and I think that you will be as well.
*A note on cashews: cashews vary in price depending on a number of factors, but one of the most price-significant is whether the nuts are whole or in pieces. Whole pieces look fancier and are generally easier for eating with your hands, but smaller pieces are less expensive and just as good for cooking in dishes such as this one. Save yourself some money and buy the pieces: you’re just going to be mashing them up anyway.
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First, complete your mise-en-place by measuring out your ingredients and getting everything chopped and ready for cooking. This is particularly worth noting because this recipe requires the use of lemongrass. For those who haven’t worked with it before, or may not have used it in this type of dish, lemongrass has a woody, fibrous exterior that only becomes tender when you reach the very inner core. For this recipe, split your lemongrass stalks in half, remove the tender, pale core, and discard the outer layers. Next, use the flat side of your knife to crush the lemongrass core, as this releases delicious, aromatic oils. After this is accomplished, finely mince the stalk and set aside in a small dish for later use.
Next, place your garlic cloves, cashews, sliced jalapeno, and brown sugar into a small food processor or mortar and pestle. Combine until a rough paste has formed. It’s ok if small bits of jalapeno aren’t completely crushed, but you want to make sure that no large slices remain. Remove the paste from the food processor bowl or mortal and place it into a small mixing bowl. Add in the lemongrass, lime juice, and fish sauce and combine using a silicone spatula or a small whisk in order to form a dressing. Once the dressing has been made, set aside the bowl.
Add your cooked, chilled, liquid-squeezed-out spaghetti squash to a large mixing bowl. Using your hands (or two forks if you don’t feel like simply digging in) to separate out the squash strands in order to eliminate clumps. Once you’re satisfied that the squash is nice and loose, pour the dressing over the squash and toss well to combine thoroughly. Top the cold thai spaghetti squash salad with thinly sliced scallions prior to serving. Serve immediately.
Here’s how to make this delicious recipe
In a small food processor or using a mortar and pestle, blend or pound the garlic, cashews, jalapeno, and brown sugar into a rough paste. Transfer paste from your food processor or mortar to a small mixing bowl.
Add lemongrass, lime juice, and fish sauce to the paste and evenly mix using a silicone spatula or small whisk. Set the dressing aside.
Evenly mix together the lemongrass, lime juice and fish sauce with the paste
In a large mixing bowl, use your hands (or two forks) to evenly separate the spaghetti squash so that there are no large clumps. Pour the dressing over the spaghetti squash and toss well. Top with thinly sliced scallions prior to serving. Serve immediately.
- 2 large garlic cloves peeled
- 1 tbsp dry-roasted salted cashews
- 1 jalapeno de-seeded and sliced
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 tsp minced lemongrass
- 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 3 cups cooked chilled spaghetti squash squeezed of excess liquid
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions white and light green parts
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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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