I picked up a bunch of asparagus and a spaghetti squash at the farmers market over the weekend, which is an excellent reflection of the season right now: the very end of winter transitioning into the briefest hint of spring. What fun it would be to come up with a light supper dish that uses both of these ingredients!
Inspired by Emily's Spaghetti Squash with Ricotta, Sage, and Pine Nuts recipe, I roasted the squash and the asparagus and combined them with ricotta and pine nuts for richness. I used lemon and thyme to add brightness and acidity, resulting in a fresh, tasty dish that hints at spring's arrival while still anchored in a favorite winter staple.
I love Emily's recipe but wanted something a little lighter and brighter for spring, which the lemon and thyme provide. This was my first asparagus of the season, and what a welcome treat it was! It roasted up quick and sweet when I added it to the spaghetti squash during the last few minutes of its roasting. (This tutorial from our archives will give you good step-by-step instructions for roasting spaghetti squash.)
While I used pine nuts in this recipe, I actually think next time I'll go for roughly chopped almonds. Pine nuts are so expensive, and while they do have a distinct flavor, almonds will do just as well and are a little more accessible. The thyme really works here but you can substitute another robust fresh herb such as rosemary. You could even do basil, except I would increase the amount by a teaspoon or two.
Serve this with a few slices of toasted crusty bread and a nice crisp white wine for a light supper. Hello, spiring!
Spaghetti Squash with Asparagus, Ricotta, Lemon & Thyme
1 small spaghetti squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 pound asparagus
1 medium lemon
3/4 cup ricotta
1 clove garlic, unpeeled
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, from 4 to 5 sprigs
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Carefully cut the squash in half, scrape out the seeds, and brush with olive oil. Place cut-side down on a baking tray and place in the oven to roast for about 35 minutes. Meanwhile, prep the asparagus by snapping off the woody ends and slicing the stalks on a diagonal into 2-inch pieces.
Using a microplane or zester, remove 1 teaspoon of lemon zest from the lemon, and then cut the lemon in half and juice it. Pick the leaves and soft, thin stems from the thyme until you have about 1 teaspoon.
Combine the lemon zest, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, thyme leaves, and ricotta in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and several grinds of the pepper mill. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more lemon juice, salt, and pepper as needed. Set aside.
After the squash has roasted for about 35 to 40 minutes, add the asparagus to the tray and tuck the clove of garlic beneath one of the squash halves. Return the tray to the oven and roast another 10 minutes, until the asparagus is bright green and starting to char in places and when the squash is easily pierced with a fork.
Take the baking tray from the oven and carefully remove the garlic clove from beneath the squash. It should be a little soft from its time in the oven. Snip off one end and squeeze the garlic from the peel into the ricotta and mix well. Transfer the asparagus to the bowl with the ricotta.
Let the squash cool for another 5 minutes. Pull a fork through the flesh to separate and remove the strands from the shell. Add to bowl with ricotta mixture. Mix squash, asparagus, and ricotta mixture, season to taste with salt and pepper, and spoon into a serving dish.
Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with pine nuts before serving.
(Image credits: Dana Velden)