Spaghetti Squash Johnny Cake with Spicy Maple Peanut Vinaigrette

This recipe shows my love of johnny cakes. While johnny cakes are more of a breakfast dish and often on the sweet side, I wanted to enjoy them as a savory appetizer. That’s where spaghetti squash comes in. Spaghetti squash has a natural sweetness that works well with the cornmeal in the batter, yet it offers enough earthiness to make the johnny cake acceptable for dinnertime. The balance of the sweet and spicy maple peanut vinaigrette really brings this dish together.

Day 1: Make Spicy Maple Vinaigrette

This recipe is simple and tasty. It’s best to make it a day or two in advance so the flavors really meld together. Since the recipe is so simple, there is no hiding behind ingredients. Be sure to buy a high-quality maple syrup, such as Hidden Springs Maple Syrup from Vermont or Crown Maple from Dutchess County.

Prep Time: 15 to 20 minutes | Cook Time: 5 to 10 minutes | Oven Temperature: 350F degrees


  • 1/2 cup raw peanuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 limes, zested and juices reserved
  • 1/2 cup, lime juice (using the same 4 limes)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • Salt, to taste

Step by Step

  1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees
  2. Place the peanuts onto a baking tray
  3. Bake peanuts in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until they’re golden brown and delicious
  4. Set peanuts aside to cool
  5. Finely chop the jalapeño and shallot, then place into a medium mixing bowl
  6. With a microplane or the fine side of a box grater, zest the limes and add to the jalapeño and shallot
  7. Add a pinch of salt to the mixture and let sit for 5 minutes *Farm2ChefsTable Tip
  8. Once the mixture has macerated for 5 minutes, add the lime juice and let sit for 5 more minutes
  9. Next, go ahead and add the maple syrup to the mixture *Farm2ChefsTable Tip
  10. Now that the peanuts are cool enough to handle, roughly chop them, but don’t go overboard — a chunky texture is always nice
  11. Add the chopped peanuts to the same mixing bowl
  12. Place into an airtight container and refrigerate up to one day (maximum, two weeks) so the flavors meld together

Farm2ChefsTable Tip: This step of salting the jalapeno and shallot are critical. It helps diminish the pungency of the shallot and jalapeño. Salt helps draw out the moisture (essentially, the flavor juice that takes the vinaigrette to the next level). The method is called curing. It is useful for anything from vegetables to meats.

Farm2ChefsTable Tip: This step of adding juice to the cured jalapeno and shallot are called maceration. We have essentially opened the cellular structures of the jalapeño, shallot and zest. Now that the pores are open, the lime juice can flow in with ease and flavor the ingredients. This a chef’s trick that takes ordinary ingredients to the next level. You can also try this with onions and jalapeño on your next batch of salsa! But, that’s for another discussion.

Day 2: Roast the Spaghetti Squash

This is another simple recipe with few ingredients. All you need is some good spaghetti squash and a sturdy knife to cut it.

Prep Time: 5 to 10 minutes | Cook Time: 35 to 45 minutes | Oven Temperature: 350F degrees | Special Equipment: Pastry brush


  • 1 spaghetti squash (medium size)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 cup water or vegetable stock
  • Salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste

Step by Step

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F degrees
  2. Place spaghetti squash horizontally on a cutting board
  3. With a sturdy knife and firm grip, remove the stem end without cutting too much off because then it becomes wasteful
  4. Next, place the squash at a 45 degree angle with the stem facing away from you
  5. Pierce through the center of the spaghetti squash and cut directly down until you feel the tip of the knife hit the cutting board
  6. Once the tip of the knife hits the cutting board, continue to cut through that half of the spaghetti squash until the bottom half is cracked open.
  7. Spin the squash so the stem end is facing you now, then find the piercing from the initial cut and make an incision at that point with your knife — It’s like connecting the dots, but with food
  8. Cut directly down until you feel the tip of the knife hit the cutting board, then continue to cut that half of the squash until it is finally split in half, revealing the seeds
  9. Scoop out the seeds with a metal spoon and discard the seeds
  10. Next, place the butter in a small pot
  11. Over medium heat, cook the butter until it’s golden brown and nutty, about 2 to 3 minutes
  12. Then, brush the browned butter all over the inside of the squash
  13. Season with the inside cavity with salt and pepper
  14. Strip the thyme sprigs of the leaves
  15. Sprinkle the thyme leaves evenly between the cavities of the spaghetti squash
  16. Place the squash cut side down on a deep roasting pan
  17. Pour the water or vegetable stock in the pan, about 1 inch high
  18. Tightly cover the pan with foil and place into the preheated oven
  19. Roast for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the squash is tender
  20. Once tender, let the squash cool for a few minutes on a plate so you can handle it
  21. Carry-over cooking is now complete, and it should be a great “spaghetti” consistency
  22. Place the squash horizontally on a cutting board, cut side up
  23. Grab a fork and begin to scrape the squash from wall to wall to create spaghetti strands
  24. Allow to cool completely after making the “spaghetti”
  25. Finally, place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator up to 3 days

Day 3: Prep & Cook Johnny Cake Batter, then Enjoy with Friends & Family

Johnny Cake Batter

The name johnnycake is something of a mystery…and probably has nothing to do with the name John. They were also called journey cakes because the batter could withstand long trips in saddlebags and get baked along the way. Some historians think they were originally called Shawnee cakes and that colonists slurred the words, pronouncing it johnnycakes. Historians also think that ‘janiken’, an American Indian word meaning “corn cake”, could be the origin. Then there is the Southern johnny cake, also called a hoe cake. Early settlers made johnny cake batter, and cooked them some johnny cakes right over the fire on garden hoes. Wherever the name comes from, they’re really tasty.

Prep Time: 15 to 20 minutes


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/3 cup melted butter

Step by Step

  1. In a large bowl, mix cornmeal , flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt to combine.
  2. Make a well in the center, and pour in buttermilk, melted butter, and boiling water.
  3. Thoroughly mix until cornmeal pancake mixture is smooth
  4. Let the cornmeal pancake mixture cool down for a couple minutes before adding the eggs. This will prevent the eggs from scrambling
  5. After a few minutes, add the eggs and mix to combine them into the batter
  6. Now the cornmeal pancake mixture is complete and is ready for the frying pan and spaghetti squash
  7. Hold off to side until cooking time!

Spaghetti Squash Johnny Cake

Cook Time: 10 to 15 minutes


  • Johnny cake batter (recipe above)
  • Spaghetti squash (recipe above)
  • Butter, as needed for cooking

Step by Step

  1. Heat butter in a cast iron pan or frying pan over medium heat
  2. Once the pan is preheated, scoop about 1/4 cup of batter onto the pan, aiming for a nice round shape similar to a pancake
  3. While the johnny cake cooks on one side, spoon 1/8 cup of spaghetti squash on top of the batter and continue cooking until the johnny cake is ready to flip, about 2 to 3 minutes
  4. Flip the cake when you see the edges firming up and little air pockets forming
  5. Cook on the flipped side for 2 to 3 minutes more
  6. Repeat until all the batter is used up

Plate & Serve


  • Johnny cakes (recipe above)
  • Spicy maple peanut vinaigrette (recipe above)
  • 4 tablespoons butter

Step by Step

  1. Place one johnny cake onto a plate
  2. Spread butter on top
  3. Stack another johnny cake on top
  4. Spoon some vinaigrette over top
  5. Repeat this stacking until all the johnny cakes are used up. I usually prefer two johnny cakes per person, but you’re welcome to stack them higher!
  6. Enjoy with your friends and family.