Want to learn how to cook spaghetti squash like a pro? I'm going to tell you exactly how to do that in this article, so read on!
Finding locally grown vegetables and fruits to nourish you in winter can be quite a challenge. However, not every meal until spring needs to consist of potatoes and onions. With a little bit of planning and creativity, you can get your fix of nutrients from vitamin-rich, cold-weather foods, like these spaghetti squash noodles.
Winter squash like acorn, butternut, kabocha, and spaghetti squash are all at their prime during the fall and winter. They are healthy, reasonably inexpensive, filling, and really tasty, which is why I enjoy cooking with them. You can roast them, turn them into soups, or even have them for breakfast as yummy butternut squash waffles.
What Is Spaghetti Squash?
Spaghetti squash is a yellow, oval-shaped squash that is in peak season in the fall and winter months. However, it's generally available all year round.
Belonging to the same family as pumpkins, zucchini, and gourds, spaghetti squash has an oblong and cylindrical shape, similar to a melon. It is connected to a small, rough, light brown stem. The rind is firm, smooth, and depending on the variety, the spaghetti squash is vibrant canary yellow or pale-yellow when mature.
The flesh is thick, dense, moist, and pale yellow, with a large cavity filled with stringy pulp and flat, cream-colored seeds. When cooked, the squash's texture is a bit more fibrous than regular pasta but favored as a healthy, low-carb alternative.
Is Squash A Fruit Or A Vegetable?
Squash may be confusing to classify. Most kinds of squash are brightly colored like fruit but taste mild or savory like vegetables.
Botanically speaking, fruits contain seeds and develop from the flowers of a plant. On the other hand, vegetables are all other plant parts, such as roots, leaves, and stems. By these definitions, apples, squash, and tomatoes are all fruits, while roots like beets and turnips, leaves such as spinach and kale, and stems like celery and broccoli are all vegetables.
However, squash has an earthy flavor and is usually prepared and served as a vegetable.
What Does Spaghetti Squash Taste Like?
Once you cook spaghetti squash, you can shred the insides into long, noodle-like strands, hence the name. The texture is similar to that of angel hair pasta — tender and chewy but a bit fragile.
Though it has spaghetti-like attributes, spaghetti squash is still a squash. The flavor is relatively bland with none of that sweet, earthy, squash-like flavor we associate with butternut and acorn squash. This mild taste makes it a fantastic pairing for sauces and other richly seasoned main dishes. If you're serving the squash as a side dish, you can toss the noodles with olive oil to keep them from sticking together.
Is Squash Healthy?
Not only is this squash a good pasta substitute, but it's also a really healthy one! One cup of has 42 calories and 10g of carbs. In comparison, 1 cup of cooked pasta has approximately 200 calories and about 40g of carbohydrates.
Spaghetti squash is a good source of vitamin C, manganese, and vitamin B6. It also has plenty of beta-carotene — a potent antioxidant that can help protect your cells and DNA from damage. A cup of cooked squash packs 2.2 grams of fiber, which is 9% of your daily fiber needs. Due to its low calorie and high fiber content, spaghetti squash may aid in weight loss and digestive health.
How To Pick Ripe Squash At The Store
1. The squash should be dull yellow and not discolored. If it has green patches, it may not be ripe. Alternatively, if it has orangish or darker spots, it may be overripe.
2. The peel should be very firm. You should not be able to puncture it with your fingernail.
3. The squash should also feel heavy.
How To Cut Spaghetti Squash
It can be a bit intimidating to cut into a squash. It has tough skin that is not easy to cut into, so you will need a sharp knife. Additionally, the skin is not normally eaten.
Start by washing your squash. Run it under cold water and give it a gentle scrub with a vegetable brush. Cut approximately half an inch off the stem and base of your squash and discard the bits.
Lay it down on a large cutting board and grab a sharp knife. Use a dish towel to steady the squash. Put half of it underneath the spaghetti squash so it doesn't roll around and the other half under your hand so that you can hold the squash firmly.
Pierce the knife into the middle of the squash and cut it from end to end. Wiggle the knife out of the squash and then pull each half apart.
If you're having a really hard time cutting through the squash, you can soften the skin by placing the spaghetti squash in a microwave. I'm not a microwave fan, but this is a last resort if you really can't cut through the squash. Pierce the squash in a few places with a knife or fork and score it where you plan to slice in half.
Cook it in the microwave for no longer than 6 minutes. This helps to soften the skin, making it slightly easier to cut. Let it cool and slice along the scored line.
How To Cook Spaghetti Squash
Preheat your oven to 400°F. Cut the squash in half and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp. You can use a large metal spoon or an ice-cream scoop to do this.
Cooking tip: For a tasty and nutritious snack, you can roast and eat spaghetti squash seeds just like you would with pumpkin seeds. Just follow my method for how to roast pumpkin seeds.
Rub the insides of the squash halves with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper or your favorite spice blend. I like to use sea salt, freshly ground cracked black pepper, and dried onion granules.
Place the squash halves on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper with the cut sides facing down. This helps the edges to caramelize and brown, which adds flavor. It also lets excess moisture drain onto the baking sheet.
Bake for around 50 minutes or until the spaghetti squash is fork-tender but still a little firm.
Cooking tip: If you would prefer to have a crunchy bite, bake the spaghetti squash for a little less time.
Allow the squash to cool slightly, then run a fork through the flesh to pull the squash from the skin and separate the strands. And that's it!
Cooking tip: If you want a quicker way to make this vegetarian spaghetti squash recipe, Megan Gilmore of Detoxinista has a spaghetti squash Instant Pot recipe that only takes 7 minutes!
Tips And Tricks For Preparing Spaghetti Squash Recipe
1. To get longer strands, cut the spaghetti squash crosswise instead of lengthwise. This is because the fibers grow in bands horizontally around the squash and not down the length. When the squash is cooked, scrape the fork in the same direction.
2. If you're not a fan of the mushy or wet texture of cooked spaghetti squash, you can salt it before cooking. Liberally apply salt on the squash's cut edges and place them on a rack for about 15 minutes. You'll see a fair bit of moisture pooling out of the squash as the salt draws out water. Once the time is up, wipe away the salt and moisture, pat the squash dry with a clean kitchen towel, and then proceed with cooking.
3. Cooked squash can keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let it cool completely before transferring it to freezer-safe bags. To prevent freezer burn, squeeze out as much air as possible out of the bags. Frozen spaghetti squash noodles can be reheated quickly in the microwave, a steamer basket, or even sautéed on the stovetop.Print
If You Enjoyed This Recipe…
Try this vegan spaghetti squash burrito bowls recipe from Cookie And Kate that is easy to make and so good for you, too.
Coat your bowl of spaghetti squash noodles with my pumpkin seed pesto for a nutritious dish that is too yummy for words.
Try our 7 Days of Deliciousness Meal Plan for even more tasty recipe ideas and a done-for-you meal plan to see you through a whole week!