Thai-Style “Green Papaya” Salad with Spaghetti Squash

Soooo I was  chatting with my friend Beany yesterday and she mentioned a crunchy slaw she was making that night with lime and cilantro. That then got me thinking about the other night at a Thai restaurant where I had their Green Papaya salad and how freaky good it was with its flavors of lime and cilantro.

Now, I could  NOT get this combination of crunch, lime and cilantro out of my head. That’s how my brain works.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get green papaya in my hands.

BUT I did have a freshly roasted spaghetti squash at home, and the “threads” of spaghetti squash look remarkably like green papaya…and well, you see where this is going.

Where it went was to a delightfully tart, savory and lightly crunchy salad with no sugar and  less carbs than a traditional green papaya salad. It’s also an inventive way to use this popular type of squash. I mean, aren’t you tired of putting marinara on it and pretending its actual spaghetti? I thought so. Pretend its green papaya instead.
That’s how my brain works.

Thai-Style “Green Papaya” Salad with Spaghetti Squash
1/2 medium spaghetti squash, roasted (instructions below)
juice from 1 lime + 1 tsp zest
1 tbs lemongrass (I like Gourmet Garden squeezable herbs; but jarred or fresh lemongrass is perfect as well)
1/2 c. cilantro leaves, chopped
1 tsp garlic powder
pinch of cayenne
1 tsp honey (optional)
1 tsp fish sauce (optional)
1/4 c. chopped cashews (Trader Joe’s Chili-Lime Cashews are perfect here)

Pre-heat oven to 350. Using a sharp knife and a steady hand, slice spaghetti squash
in half, scoop out seeds and slimy bits around the seeds (if the rind is too hard, poke several holes in the squash whole) and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Roast for 40 minutes or until a fork pierces the flesh easily. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. If you have baked your squash whole, slice in half now, scooping out seeds and slimy bits.

Reserve half of the squash for “spaghetti” or other fun thing.  With the remaining squash half, use a fork to pull the “threads” entirely from the rind. Then, using a clean dish towel or several paper towels, squeeze the moisture out of the squash. I’ve never used a salad spinner; but it could possibly work here? Let me know.

In a large bowl, whisk together, lime juice, zest, lemongrass, cilantro, garlic powder and cayenne. Fish sauce and honey are traditional in this salad, as the fish sauce adds a bit of that savory background flavor and the honey offsets the tang from the lime.  However,
I preferred to let the lime and cilantro flavors to shine through here; so I omitted them.
Add the dry squash to the dressing and toss well. Add more cayenne if desired.
Plate and sprinkle liberally with chopped cashews.
Serves 2.

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