How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

My friend Jenny emailed me the other day:

Subject line:  “Spaghetti squash?”

Message: “Never made it before in my life, and tonight’s the night. Any words of wisdom?”

She is certainly not the first person to look at the pale yellow gourd and wonder how exactly to get it to transform itself into golden silken noodley strands.

What is Spaghetti Squash?

They are a member of the winter squash family, oval in shape, and range in size from quite large to small.  They have a lot of seeds inside, and the thick flesh is firm, but then, when cooked, falls apart into spaghetti-like strands, hence the name.

For those that are looking to lighten up on the carbs, or for those who are gluten free, spaghetti squash can be quite a discovery…. though I hasten to add that while it becomes spaghetti-like in shape, it really doesn’t resemble pasta in texture or taste. But it has a lovely—albeit bland—naturally buttery flavor, great nutrition, and is just plain fun to make as well. If you have kids this is just the most perfect kitchen project. It’s like a vegetable decided how to spiralize itself! You can also cook the squash in the microwave, but I’m a fan of roasting.

Since the flavor of spaghetti squash is quite neutral, its up to you to decide if you want to go easy on the seasonings so you can taste the squash, or use it as a vehicle for a more fully seasoned sauce or ragu of some sort. But first, let’s get that squash to turn into spaghetti.

The best way, with step by step photos, to prepare this versatile winter squash (which yes, looks much like spaghetti, once it’s cooked!)

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Preparing the Spaghetti Squash

This is not a simple task, as the shell is very hard, but cutting in in half will allow it to cook faster, and make it easier to work with after baking.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

Cutting the Spaghetti Squash in Half

First, cut the ends off the spaghetti squash using a heavy knife, and rocking it back and forth with control. 

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

Cutting off the ends helps stabilize the squash so you have more leverage and stability, and therefore it’s safer to cut the squash in half lengthwise.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

Scraping out the Seeds from Spaghetti Squash

Scrape out the seeds and any pulpy strings with a spoon (just like most winter squashes, the inside is hollow, filled with seeds and some stringy fibers; you can roast the seeds like pumpkin seeds if you wish.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

Roasting the Spaghetti Squash

Place the halves cut side down in a 9 x 13 inch baking pan, add 3/4 cup of water and roast in a preheated 400*F oven for 45 to 55 minutes until the halves look somewhat wrinkly and slightly collapsed, and the squash itself is tender. Check as the cooking time gets towards the end to make sure there is still a bit of water in the pan, adding more if necessary.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

Turning the Squash into Spaghetti

Remove the squash from the oven and allow to cool about 15 minutes. Then using a fork, scrape, scrape, scrape the inside of the squash to release the insides from the skin (you may want to hold the squash with a dishtowel as it will still be quite hot. You’ll see the squash form spaghetti-like strands as you do this; it’s pretty cool. Transfer all of the squash to a serving bowl (or individual bowls), then use it or top it as you wish. Toss the outside shells.

Greek-Style Spaghetti Squash with Shrimp

Spaghetti Squash Recipes:

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