Spaghetti squash is fun to eat: it’s like kid food for grown-ups. The taste isn’t kid stuff, though. This dish is aromatic and full of fall flavors, so it makes a great textural complement to meaty dishes. Plus it’s stupid-easy to make. Give yourself 2 hours to make this dish, because every oven and every squash is different.
Preheat the oven to 400°.2.
Place the squash on a cutting board. Using a large, very sharp knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and discard them.3.
Place the squash halves on a roasting rack and season with ¼ teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Place 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 sage leaves in the hollowed-out core of each half.4.
Bake the squash on a tray on the oven's middle rack until the flesh is just soft—about 1 hour (or longer—it all depends on your oven). Remove the squash and let it cool until you can work with the flesh comfortably, about 15 minutes.5.
Using a fork, scrape the meat of the squash away from the skin, so that you get fluffy spaghetti-like strands. Reserve these and discard the skins, unless you're saving them for the presentation (see below). The squash will hold at this point up to a day ahead of time, in an airtight container in the fridge.6.
Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the walnuts. Toast the nuts and allow the butter to bubble, about 1 minute.7.
Add the sage leaves. When the leaves release their aroma and begin to crackle in the pan (about 1 minute), add the squash and stir to coat it with the flavored butter. Cook for 2 minutes over medium heat until the squash is warm, stirring frequently so the flavors get inside the squash. Season with the rest of the salt and pepper.8.
Serve on a large plate or platter, topped with the cheese. Or if you're going for that fancy '70s-hostess-style thing, serve the squash inside its own skin.
Reprinted with permission from Urban Italian: Simple Recipes and True Stories from a Life in Food by Andrew Carmellini, Bloomsbury USA