The following was originally posted on October 26, 2011.
If you’ve never enjoyed spaghetti squash, now is the perfect time of year to try it. As the name implies, the cooked flesh looks like spaghetti (or angel hair pasta), and is often used as a substitute for pasta. It has a mild flavor and a pleasant crunchiness that is very satisfying. And it is loaded with potassium, vitamin C, a few B vitamins, and a whole lot of other nutrients that make it oh-so-good for you. As my husband said tonight, it’s hard to believe this food is actually a vegetable!
Spaghetti squash can be prepared many different ways. It can be microwaved, boiled, roasted, sauteed, even put in a crockpot. It can be cooked whole or split in half. And it can be “dressed up” with almost any flavor you want – olive oil and garlic, creamy butter sauce, tomato sauce and mozzarella…
But here’s how I do it:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Wash the outside of the squash in warm water and a mild detergent. Use a skewer, knife, or fork to pierce holes through the skin all the way around.
- Place in a baking dish and bake for 60-75 minutes. [Note: if you have time, allow the squash to cool for several hours before continuing. Otherwise, handle very carefully to avoid getting burned.]
- Cut the squash lengthwise all the way through. Scoop out the seeds and pulpy orange flesh in the center. Discard or set aside for later – the seeds can be roasted and enjoyed just like pumpkin seeds.
- Using a fork, separate the flesh to create long pasta-like strands [see photo below]. Scoop all these strands into the baking dish, scraping until the shell is bare inside. Season as desired, reheat if necessary, and enjoy!
Tonight I simply added a drizzle of olive oil, some fresh minced garlic, and a few dashes of basil. Since I prepared it in the early afternoon, it sat in the fridge for a few hours, and I simply microwaved it for about 4-5 minutes when we were ready to eat.
I have also layered the squash with fresh tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and mozzarella, then baked it at a low temperature until the cheese was melted - kind of like a baked spaghetti dish.
You could add sauteed onions and peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes, ground beef or sausage, grilled chicken… pretty much anything you can do with pasta, you can do with spaghetti squash. Just keep in mind that the squash has a higher water content, and heating times will need to be adjusted accordingly. But on the other hand, I’ve never had it dry out from being heated too long!
And if you want to try spaghetti squash sometime but aren’t sure when you can prepare it, don’t worry. Buy one now and store it in a cool, dry place for weeks or even months before cooking it.
One medium squash makes about 4 one-cup servings.
Have YOU ever tried spaghetti squash?
What’s your favorite way to prepare it?
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