Spaghetti squash stew (tökfözelék)

Some like it white, some like it red … others use flour, some others don’t … and could be served hot or cold …  Well, I like it red with flour and served hot. This is one of my favorite recipes and I believe this dish would make a nice transition into the late summer days as well.

We are coming to the end of the hot summer season and entering the cooler fall season. This transition is considered to be a short season and has been recognized by many different cultures. In the United States, it is called Indian summer, in China, the Earth season and in Hungary, old women’s summer (vénasszonyok nyara). Seasonal transitions are important to be aware of as they can be challenging on our body. It is worth to pay attention to, especially if you are prone to problems now like having excessive mucus, digestive problems, feeling of heaviness/edema, tiredness, metabolic problems, low self esteem or craving sweets.

The ancient Chinese have observed this short time period, the Earth (Wu Xing, 地球) season, to be different from all the other four seasons. This is the time of stillness when everything seems to just stop. The heat of the summer is gone, our busy lives are finally slowing down and activity becomes effortless. It is associated with stability, patience, and thoughtfulness. It is the time to stop and observe abundance around us and things we have created. As the days are getting shorter, we are moving from the time of abundance and expansion to focusing inward and cessation of abundance.

To harmonize with this season, it is wise to make changes to our cooking style. The emphasis should be on moderation and creating simple, harmonizing dishes with ingredients that attune with the Earth element: round, mildly sweet, yellow or golden in color. Feel free to use herbs that help digestion like dill, oregano, ginger, anise, caraway seeds, cumin, fennel seeds etc. Also, try to avoid foods that are complicated with too many ingredients or are heavy, greasy and too spicy. In other words, we need to help our digestion so we can move into the new season effortlessly. Also, it is nice to start including more warming foods in our diet like winter squashes.

This dish is based on the Hungarian tökfözelék recipe. The spaghetti squash along the dill are balanced out with the onion, garlic, vinegar, sour cream and salt. The sweet spaghetti squash definitely is the main ingredient. It is growing right now and I believe is perfect for the end of the summer. The other important ingredient that everybody uses regardless of other preferences is dill. Dill is a unique sweet plant that gives the zesty, tangy flavor with slightly bitter undertones. It helps digestion and calms the mind. I like to balance the sweet flavor with pungent flavors, in this case, the onions and the garlic will do that. Of course we also have the sour, acidic flavor from the vinegar and the Hungarian staple, sour cream. At the end, we add the salt to create this pleasant sweet and sour dish.



  • vegetable oil (sunflower)
  • 1 larger onion, chopped, or graded
  • 1 Tbsp of flour
  • 1 tsp of sweet Hungarian paprika powder
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 cold water
  • 1 smaller spaghetti squash (about 1 lb) (Not exactly what we use in Hungary but it is a perfect substitute).
  • water or meat stock
  • 4 dill springs, (about a hand-full)
  • sour cream
  • 1/4 cup of white vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 red pepper flalkes


chopped dill

Using the large hole grater
grated squash

  • Prepare the spaghetti squash. Peel, and grate through the larger holes of your cheese grater.
  • Optional: Soak in 2 tsp salt for 20 minutes. Squeeze water out. This step will make the squash less watery.
  • Chop the onion fine or you can grate too.
  • Have a 1/2 cup of cold water ready.
  • Sauté the onion with a pinch of salt in a little oil until soft but not brown. When you can smell the aroma of the onion, add paprika powder and garlic, stir and after 30 second add the cold water quickly that you set aside earlier. Stir.
  • Cook the onion for 15 minutes.
  • Add the squash meat, stir in and cover with water or meat stock.
  • Bring to a boil and then turn down to medium heat and cook covered for 10-15 minutes.
  • Chop dill, only the leaves though, discard the stem. Add the dill to the pot.
  • Also mix 1 Tbsp of flour with cold little water. Then add a little hot liquid from the dish. Whisk well and add it to the dish.
  • Bring the dish to a quick boil, cook for a few minutes and turn heat off.
  • Add vinegar, salt and pepper. Stir. Take off heat.
  • Let the dish cool and put it in the refrigerator for the night but at least for 6 hours so the flavors can settle.
  • Serve with a dab of sour cream and some protein (egg or beef dishes would go well). I also serve mashed potatoes.
  • I served this dish with my Eggplant Parmesan recipe (please see the recipe ). The bitter eggplants complemented this sweet and sour dish nicely.

Enjoy! Jó étvágyat!


  • Paul Pitchforg: Healing with Whole Foods
  • Michael Tierra: The Way of Herbs

Text, photo, recipe by

4 thoughts on “Spaghetti squash stew (tökfözelék)”

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