Butternut squash salads typically involve wheat pastas and blocks of butternut squash. Thally, in D.C., instead uses the squash as the "pasta" itself. Here's how they make it. (Jhaan Elker/The Washington Post)

Quotation marks on a menu can raise a red flag: When one food plays the part of another, the chef behind the creation had better be skilled or the result can seem gimmicky. Thankfully, it’s the former at Thally in Shaw, where chef-owner Ron Tanaka coats fall vegetables in warming spices and tart yogurt to deliver a plate of “noodles” that are anything but. They’re butternut squash and celery root, cut on a spiral slicer and sitting on a bed of baby spinach.

“The home cook can do this with a minimum of hassle,” Tanaka says, by using a vegetable peeler and a sharp knife. Then the key is to think of those noodle-cut vegetables the way you would pasta in one important respect: Don’t overcook them.

Recipe: Butternut Squash and Celery Root ‘Noodle’ Salad

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(Photograph by Renee Comet; styling by Bonnie S. Benwick; tableware by Crate & Barrel)

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