One of mine and Ravi's go-to restaurants is Barcelona, an insanely delicious tapas restaurant with several locations in Connecticut. Their menu changes seasonally, and it's always filled with veggie options.
Last winter, we were having a glass of wine at the bar (hibernation mode in full effect) and needed a small snack, so we ordered a spaghetti squash dish seasoned with pimentón (Spanish paprika), loads of garlic, and toasted almonds. It was addictive, and we almost ordered a second!
Thinking ahead, I knew I needed to recreate the dish and share it with you all as a Thanksgiving side. It's easy to prepare in advance and sure to impress.
Smoky Garlicky Spaghetti Squash
1 medium spaghetti squash
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
5-6 thyme sprigs (leaves only)
pinch crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
3 Tbs. chopped and toasted marcona almonds (or skinless regular almonds)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Carefully cut squash in half and drizzle with a olive oil plus a good pinch of salt. Roast cut side down on the sheet pan. Check doneness after 45 minutes (it could take up to one hour), a knife should be easily inserted and the strings of the squash separating. Let squash cool until it can be easily handled. Then, use a fork to gently pull out the spaghetti strings of the squash. Set aside in a mixing bowl.
(Tip: Prick, then microwave the whole squash for 4-5 minutes before cutting in half to make it a little easier. Just be careful to watch out for steam.)
Heat a skillet to medium and add the olive oil. Sauté garlic, thyme leaves, and red pepper flakes for 60 seconds - until fragrant, but not brown. Add in the smoked paprika, reserved squash, and sea salt. Gently combine and cook until the squash is heated through.
Transfer to serving bowl and top with chopped almonds. Serve warm.
Notes: Spaghetti squash can be roasted and stored in the fridge up to one day before. Simply heat through with garlic, etc when ready to serve.