Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Step-by-Step: Spaghetti Squash

Here's a vegetable that most people have heard of, but not so many have tried it. I hope that is about to change! Maybe this post will make a convert out of you!

Why bother eating spaghetti squash? Well, besides being delicious, one cup of spaghetti squash provides 2.2g fiber, 10g carbs, 1g protein, and significant amounts of Vitamins C, A, several B vitamins, manganese, potassium, and magnesium. And here's a nice surprise: this winter squash is also a good source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (121 mg and 73mg, respectively)! All for only 42 calories per cup. This is one vegetable that is definitely worth trying if you never have.

Spaghetti squash tastes, to me, more like a summer squash than a winter squash. It tastes nothing like acorn squash. When cooked properly it is not hard nor mushy, but holds its shape and texture while being soft and tender. Its flavor is just slightly sweet but overall rather neutral, which makes it a great base for sauces and toppings. And since it looks like spaghetti strands, it makes a great substitute for pasta. But how to prepare it? Well, some people like to bake them or steam them, but I prefer the speed and ease of microwaving. They are really hard to cut when raw, and using this method you do not have to do any hard labor.

First, I take my big, raw squash and cut a hole in it with a knife, like so:

The hole is essential or your squash will blow up in the microwave. Not pretty. Next, put it on a plate and microwave it. How long depends on how big your squash is. Mine was BIG, so it took a total of 14 minutes (high power). A smaller squash might take 8 to 10 minutes. Cook it in intervals; I did mine for 4 minutes, then turn it over, then 4 more minutes, rotate it a bit again, 4 more, rotate, then 2 and it was done. For a smaller squash use 3 minute intervals. I turn the squash (using oven mitts) because the bottom cooks faster than the top, so I flip it a couple times. You can tell when it is done by jabbing a fork into it. If it is hard to jab, keep cooking. It should be tender (but not mushy) all over when it is done. Make sure you poke it on all sides to be sure it is all cooked. This is easier than it sounds.

Now, take it out and cut it in half. The cutting should be VERY easy. If it is hard, cook the squash more. It will look like this:

In the center, you can see the seeds and the darker orangey-yellow strands around the seeds. Just take this center part out with a fork. Don't get all crazy trying to pick each seed out. Just scrape the middle out and toss it. You will end up with this:

Nice, soft, pretty yellow strands. Mmmmm. Now, just scrape them out with a fork, like this:

Scrape all the way down to the skin. Put the squash in a bowl. You'll have this:

All ready to eat! You can toss this with a bit of butter or olive oil, salt and pepper and Parmesan and eat it like that. Or you can make your favorite pasta sauce and serve it like spaghetti. Tonight for dinner, I made meatballs from lean, grass fed local beef and simmered them in low sugar spaghetti sauce. Here's a picture of my dinner:

It was SO yummy. I had a side salad with Balsamic vinaigrette with it. The kids had Barilla Plus high fiber, high protein spaghetti with the same sauce & meatballs & lean turkey Italian sausage. No complaints!

Other things that I have put on my spaghetti squash:
sloppy joe meat
light Alfredo sauce
taco meat
melted mozzarella
Swedish meatballs

Basically, anything you would put over noodles or rice can go over spaghetti squash. It's much lower calories and carbs than most noodles or rice, tastes great, and is so good for you! You can also make it into fritters or make it into a crust for a dinner pie or pizza (check online for recipes, or maybe I will share some another time!) Great stuff, so versatile.

Are you a convert? I really love this stuff. You gotta try it. Now go eat your veggies!


Kim said...

It really is such a versatile squash...very yummy. I almost like it better than eating noodles w/ spaghetti sauce. Thanks for showing another easy way to cook it. :)

✯FiTCETERA✯ said...

It took a bit for me to get used to spaghetti squash but once I got the taste for it I became a convert. I don't eat pasta anymore but can still get my spaghetti fix ... I love it.

gingersnapper said...

You know, every time I've had spaghetti squash I've never eaten it like spaghetti! I've always hated it, so maybe I'll try it this way.

Anonymous said...

It's even better if you open it up totally raw and put them open face down on a cookie sheet and roast it in the oven.

Kristin said...

I love spag squash too; I tend to forget about it for a long time then eat it in spells! Interesting way to cook in microwave. I have been following the label directions, cutting in half then microwaving. Congratulations on how well thing have been going for you. Your homemade meals (like the meatballs and sauce here) look wonderful!

Anonymous said...

The food you prepare here always looks so pretty and appetizing. I actually cannot stomach the appearance of regular spaghetti (looks too much like a pile of underground wrigglers or, well never mind...), but your spaghetti squash just looks like squash, in nice attractive strands! I could eat it.

Seriously, I've wondered how to make this for so long and you have made the process simple. I can't wait until you have your own TV show, like Rachel Ray, only smarter! :-0

Love Ya!

Anonymous said...

I love spaghetti Squash! My mom started cooking it in place of spaghetti noodles when I was a teenager and our family of 8 loved it. I now cook it for my family as a way to get them to eat a vegtable and for the nutrition. They love it also.

spunkysuzi said...

I love spaghetti squash, haven't had it in a while :(

She woke up FAT said...

Good reminder for me, I haven't done this in a while.

skinnyhollie said...

My bff was JUST trying to explain to me how to cook a spaghetti squash this weekend! Thanks for the step-by-step guide! I am definitely going to grab one on my next grocery visit!

Laura said...

I've always loved spaghetti squash, but your post reminded me that I haven't eaten it since I moved out of my mom's house, about 8 years ago. Maybe I'll go shopping this weekend. :)

Thanks for the instructions and pics!

Lisa said...

Thanks for the guide. I heard about this a while back but just have never gotten around to trying it. I am so glad you refreshed my memory and now I have another meal I am anxious to try. Looks oh so yummy!

Body By Pizza said...

YES! I've been wondering how to make this for the longest time, but haven't had a chance to Google it. Now I want some! I'm officially making it my goal this weekend to try this. Thanks for sharing.

littleshorty said...

I have always wanted to try spaghetti squash, but wasn't
sure how to do it. Is the squash called "spaghetti squash" or
"winter squash" when I look
for it? I am excited to try it.
Have you tried the new Kraft
mayo (reduced with olive oil)?
It is 45 calories and I wonder
how it tastes. Thanks

LAF said...

Thanks for the tutorial. I have avoided buying this because last time I felt like a needed a machete to hack through the skin. Will try the hole/microwave version in the future!
Keep up the good work.

Certifiably Fit said...

No need to convert me as I already love spaghetti squash. I eat it just the way you pictured it as well as make a "pasta" bake with it.

Ice Queen said...

Okay, I'm convinced and I am definitely going to try spaghetti squash. :D (Hey, I can cook it in the microwave... How can I go wrong? lol)

Leslie said...

Love it, haven't had it for a long time. It's on the shopping list now!

Anonymous said...

This is great when served with chicken cacciatore. Just use chicken breast instead of thighs!

Blossom said...

You can also just poke it several times with a fork before microwaving.

Lyn said...


It is called spaghetti squash. It is a kind of winter squash so it will probably be near the other winter squashes like acorn and butternuts. But the spaghetti one is easy to tell because it is oval and yellow.

I have tried the olive oil mayo and is tastes good to me, but I prefer Hellman's/Best Foods low fat or light mayo for flavor.

Deanna - The Unnatural Mother said...

I love spaghetti squash, so yummy!!!

...three sixty-three no more... said...

What a super idea, I ever thought about using it as pasta -- DUH!! I toss it a little olive oil and som parm on it. And Viola.

I love your blog, I am coming back for more.

Karyn said...

I love spaghetti of my 'staples' Thanks for the instructions for cooking it without cutting it first. I always microwave it but cut it in half first.....once in awhile, the skin is quite easy to cut but normally, it is very hard so your way will help, I'm sure!

Thanks, too, for the nutritional info!

Jennifer M said...

Thank you for the tips on how to use it. It's something I'd thought about trying, but really didn't know anything about it. Now I'm ready for my next shopping trip so I can pick up some spaghetti squash.

beerab said...

I have had this before- SOOO good! :D

Physicallee Fit said...

You can also cut it in half and scrape out the sides before cooking. I love spaghetti squash. It's light, fresh and clean.

Jessica said...

Yum! Made this tonight on your recommendation, turned out great, I think it cooked a little too long, it was more mushy than string..but great taste!

jmaret said...

I love to make Spaghetti Squash Au Gratin, here is the recipe for you to try if you'd like :) If you make it let me know how you liked it
1 medium spaghetti squash
2 tablespoons butter
1 small yellow onion, cut in half and very thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more if you like it spicy
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
½ cup sour cream
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Cut the spaghetti squash in half and remove the seeds. Place in a covered dish with a ¼ inch of water and microwave for 10 -12 minutes. In a medium sized skillet over medium heat, add the butter, onions, red pepper and thyme and cook until the onions are slightly brown in color. Salt and pepper to taste.

Using a fork, scrape the insides of the squash and transfer to a small bowl. Combine the squash, onions, sour cream and half the cheese together and mix well. Transfer the mixture to a buttered baking dish and top with remaining cheese.

Place into a 375ยบ for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown on top.