Squash may just be my very favorite thing to cook. Hand me a squash of any size, shape, color, or season and I accept the challenge of unlocking the treasure with in! I always have some kind of squash, often in excess, rolling around our counter or pantry (much to the dismay of my husband) waiting to be turned into to something fabulous.
Behold the spaghetti squash! The very last of my winter squash stock who met it’s tasty end for dinner this week. If you are not familiar with spaghetti squash, this yellow beauty has a hard but thin outer shell and it’s cooked flesh can be shredded into noodley tendrils of tastyness with a fork (which is great fun, if you are into that sort of mess…which I am). Unlike some of its cousins, it has a very mild flavor and light, slightly crunchy texture. Cooking your basic spaghetti squash is easy and it handles a variety of seasonings and sauces. You can whip some up as a tasty side dish or even serve it as a noodle substitute for an interesting and gluten free take on your favorite pasta dish.
Although not as vitamin packed as some of its winter squash counterparts, spaghetti squash is low in calories and has a high water content. It contains about 2g of fiber per cooked cup and adding fiber to your diet is an important part of helping your body regulate cholesterol and blood sugar levels as well as keeping you full and satisfied after a meal.
Cooking Tips and Tricks:
My favorite way to prepare spaghetti squash is to take a freshly washed and dried squash then prick it all over with a fork. I set it in a shallow baking dish and pop it into the oven at 400°. The squash is done when the rind and flesh is easily pierced with a fork and this usually takes from 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of your squash. I love that this eliminates the need to cut open the raw squash. The tough outer shell on raw winter squashes can make them very hard to cut into, so I find popping the whole spaghetti squash in the oven to be less dangerous.
That being said, if you take on the challenge of cutting the spaghetti squash half, scoop out the seeds and pulp, and place it cut-sides down in your baking dish, it will cook in the oven in about half the time. AND, if you want to do things really quick and dirty, you can pop the squash, whole or halved into the microwave and have it cooked through in 15 minutes!
When cooking the squash whole, I recommend pricking the outer shell well with a fork to let steam escape as the squash cooks. If you choose to cut your squash in half, you can add a little water to your shallow baking dish to give it a little extra steam while it cooks.
When your squash is cooked through, allow it a few minutes to cool so it can be easily handled. I recommend handling the squash with hot pads as the core may still be very hot even if the rind has become cool to the touch. Cut it in half and remove the seeds and pulp from the center of the squash if you have not done so already. Now go to town with your trusty fork, shredding and scrapping the squash’s golden contents into a large bowl. You now have a tangled spaghetti squash canvas on which to create your next culinary masterpiece!
My favorite way to to enjoy spaghetti squash is to saute it with a little butter (YES BUTTER) a lot of garlic, a squeeze of lemon, and some fresh thyme from my garden. Sometimes. I even sprinkle a little freshly grated Parmesan on top. YUM. What are you favorite ways to enjoy spaghetti squash? Leave a comment bellow!