RECIPE: How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

When I say Joel likes to cook, I don’t just mean he likes to throw a couple burgers on the grill come summertime. Don’t get me wrong, at the last cookout this summer at his apartment, he made burgers. They were Aussie burgers, topped with roasted beets, an egg, over easy, and a grilled pineapple ring, among other things. The first party I went to at his apartment was Turkish Night. Italian Food Party involved a roast duck, tiramisu and hundreds of tiny gnocchi — all homemade.

So it’s not very often I get to introduce my foodie fiance to a new food.

I think I was the first to steam an artichoke for him. And, believe it or not, he’d never made cupcakes (too plebian) before I decided to make s’more-, chocolate mint- and orange whiskey-flavored confections for my last birthday.

Last night, it was spaghetti squash.

Spaghetti squash  is cylindrical, ivory- to yellow-colored on the outside and looks, for reals, like spaghetti on the inside once you’ve cooked it and forked it out. So, no, it’s not just a clever name. At least one website calls it “a dieter’s dream” — only about 40 calories in a one-cup serving. And it’s high in nutrients, like folic acid, potassium, vitamin A and beta carotene, according to Wikipedia.

You can find spaghetti squash pretty easily in the wintertime at your grocery store, and I picked one up the other day. My former roommate had made it once, and I remembered it being really good (I do love me some squash!), but I hadn’t watched how she’d prepared it. Which left me with a lot of questions: Does it come looking like spaghetti on the inside? Do you have to do something special to it to achieve a spaghetti-like consistency? Just how do you cook a spaghetti squash?

As it turns out, there is no real wrong answer to that last question.

How to cook spaghetti squash

Here’s what you’re looking for in the grocery store:

And here’s what it looks like on the inside, after you’ve cut it in half lengthwise, which is the first thing you’re going to do:

  1. Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds.
  2. Place cut side down in a shallow pan with 1/2-inch of water.
  3. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes, or until tender. Let squash cool for about 10 minutes to make it easier to handle.
  4. Now comes the fun part: Pull a fork lengthwise through the flesh to separate it into long, spaghetti noodle-like strands. Like this:

Those instructions came from the sticker on my spaghetti squash. Joel tackled the task of cooking the squash in a slightly different way, one I slightly prefer, only because it made it easier to tell seed goop from spaghetti strings and didn’t involve me sloshing scalding water over my hand.

Another way to cook spaghetti squash

  1. Puncture the whole squash several times, all the way through, with a large fork or skewer and place in a baking dish or on a pan. (This is so it doesn’t explode, according to Joel.)
  2. Bake at 375 degrees about one hour, or until tender. Let squash cool for about 10 minutes to make it easier to handle.
  3. Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds.
  4. Pull a fork lengthwise through the flesh to separate it into long, spaghetti noodle-like strands, as before.

Either way, you’ll end up with something that looks, as promised, like spaghetti noodles:

Like spaghetti noodles, spaghetti squash doesn’t have a whole lot of flavor on its own. Which means, you know, the culinary possibilities are endless.

I salted mine just enough to bring out its squashy flavor, then topped it with chili (as pictured, up top), an idea I got from Our Life in Food (quickly becoming one of my favorite blogs). My chili, though, wasn’t anything special: Just a can of Trader Joe’s chili I added some sauteed red peppers and zucchini to. It was on sale. It’s also high in fiber and protein (18 grams per serving), 99 percent fat free and 230 calories per serving, which is reasonable when paired with squash. It also feels pretty great after digging your car out of about five feet of snow dropped in yesterday’s Snowpocalypse.

Try it in anything you normally would use spaghetti noodles in. The squash is less gummy than the pasta, and it’s also low-carb — just 10 grams of carbohydrates in one cup of squash, compared to more than 43 in one cup of noodles.

Joel already is planning ways to one-up me with the spaghetti squash, involving sauteed spinach and chicken. He picked one up at the grocery store today.

Photo credit: mcemilywrites

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3 thoughts on “RECIPE: How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

  1. I love this stuff!!! I eat more SS than regular spaghetti now.

    Tip: Use an ice cream scoop to scoop out the spaghetti squash. It’s much quicker.

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