Saturday, October 5, 2019


We are bereft of pumpkins and squashes in the garden this year. Was the growing season too hot? Not enough water? No bees to pollinate the flowers? The lone survivor was a pretty, yellow spaghetti squash. 

An only squash--
Spaghetti squash is a variety not found in local markets, which is why I planted it. I make “zoodles,” thin strips of zucchini to substitute for pasta in order to keep my consumption of carbohydrates down. I figured spaghetti squash, whose flesh cooks up into skinny strands, or “spaghetti,” would be equally delicious with pesto, puttanesca or Asian peanut-sesame-chile sauce.

My singleton squash somehow deserved more elaborate fixing. How about fideuá, also known as “pasta paella,” a Valencian dish combining fideo noodles and seafood?

Shrimp, squid and mussels tossed in olive oil are pretty delicious, no matter whether you’re using real pasta or vegetable noodles. But, spaghetti squash makes noodles as thin as vermicelli, which turned out not so pretty in the finished dish. (Real fideos are more like spaghetti in thickness.) They did provide a good texture, however, with just a little crunch.

And, that’s the story of how my lonely little spaghetti squash was transformed into a Spanish dish. I´d happily ladle the whole mixture over a serving of pasta!

The beauty shot! Thin squash "spaghetti" tastes great, but doesn't have much visual presence.

Strands of squash are tangled with shrimp, squid and mussels. A sofrito gives flavour. The color comes from pimentón, not saffron.

Seafood with Spaghetti Squash “Noodles”
Fideuá con Fideos de Calabaza

Fresh gambas blancas. Shells and heads can be used for stock or flavoring the cooking oil.

If you start with whole shrimp with heads and shells, the shells can be used to make a flavorful broth and/or to flavor the olive oil for making the sofrito. If this is not an option, use clam broth or fish stock.

You can vary the seafood in this dish. Use clams instead of mussels. Add chunks of a solid-fleshed fish such as rape (monkfish, angler) or (precooked) cuttlefish. I used thick pieces of a kind of squid called pota (flying squid). 

Serves 4.

1 (2-pound) spaghetti squash
1 pound whole small shrimp (or ½ pound peeled shrimp)
¼ cup olive oil
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 cup chopped red and green bell pepper
1 cup grated tomato pulp
6 ounces cleaned squid, in rings or chunks
¼ teaspoon smoked pimentón picante (hot paprika)
½ teaspoon sweet pimentón (paprika, not smoked)
1 cup shrimp or clam broth
8 mussels, steamed open and empty shells discarded
Chopped parsley to serve
Alioli (garlic mayonnaise) to accompany (optional)

After microwaving, squash makes strands.

Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard the seeds. Place one half, cut side down, in a microwave safe dish and add ¼ cup water. Microwave on high for 4 minutes. Turn the squash cut side up. Microwave 4 minutes more. Allow to set 5 minutes. Repeat with the other half of the squash.

When squash is cool enough to handle, use a fork to scrape the flesh lengthwise and scoop out the strands. Reserve them.

If you are starting with whole shrimp, peel them, reserving the heads and shells. Refrigerate the shrimp bodies. 

Fry the shrimp shells in olive oil, then discard the shells. Use the oil to make sofrito. Flavor!

Heat the oil in a paella pan or skillet. Add the heads and shells and fry them, stirring and crushing with a spatula, until they are completely cooked. Remove from heat. Tilt the pan so that the oil drains to one side. Use a skimmer to remove the shells from the pan. Discard them, saving the oil.

Return the oil to the heat. Add the garlic and peppers and sauté 3 minutes. Add the tomato pulp and continue frying until tomato liquid is cooked off and the sofrito begins to sizzle in the oil. Add the pieces of squid and the two kinds of pimentón. Sauté for 1 minute and add the shrimp or clam broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook gently for 10 minutes.

Add the reserved spaghetti squash to the pan. When the squash is very hot, add the shrimp. Stir to combine and cook 1 or 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Place mussels on top of the noodles. Sprinkle with parsley. If desired, serve with alioli (garlic mayonnaise) to accompany the dish.

Related recipes:

A few years ago--the pumpkin and squash yield was terrific.


  1. Very nice, will make this now.
    Many Thanks!

    1. Sweet basil: I hope you like it--it's very tasty, but not very pretty!