Spaghetti squash is a large oval squash that, when cooked, forms spaghetti-like strands. It has gained popularity in recent years as a lower carbohydrate substitute for regular grain-based pasta. The texture, once cooked, is soft with a slight crunch. It may not taste exactly like spaghetti, but its delicious and pairs well with many flavors.Cooking the perfect spaghetti squash is quite simple and is the perfect addition to many classic dishes. Like many other squash varieties, spaghetti squash is inexpensive to purchase and easy to grow in a backyard garden.
To prepare the perfect baked spaghetti squash, start by pre-heating the oven to 400 degrees. While the oven is pre-heating, cut the squash in half, lengthwise. With a large spoon, scoop out the seeds. Coat the inside of each half with olive oil, and lightly season with salt and pepper. Place each half in a baking pan, cut-side down and roast for about 45 minutes.Gently scrape a fork on the inside of the squash. If the ‘noodle’ strings come out easily, it is ready to eat. Discard the shell.
Sometimes there is not enough time to wait for a spaghetti squash to bake in the oven. The good news is that using the microwave is just as easy, but takes a fraction of the time.Similar to the baking instructions, cut the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. After lightly seasoning the inside of each with olive oil, salt, and pepper, place the squash in a microwavable dish, cut side down.Set the microwave to cook for 12 – 15 minutes, checking on its progress approximately halfway through. The squash will be ready when a fork easily scrapes out the strands.
Spaghetti squash has a very mild flavor and does not have the sweetness that many other squash varieties possess. This means that it can be easily substituted for pasta in your family’s favorite dishes.Cook some ground beef until done. Add diced onions, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, and salt. Simmer for 20-30 minutes while the spaghetti squash is baking. Spoon sauce on spaghetti squash noodles and serve with parmesan cheese.
Give Taco Tuesday a healthy twist by substituting taco shells with spaghetti squash. While the squash is cooking, prepare the ingredients for a fun taco bowl. Kids love this option because the squash can be used as the actual bowl!Possible toppings for taco bowls:
- black beans or refried beans
- sauteed peppers
- ground beef or chicken cooked with chili powder, garlic, and cumin
- green onions
Add everything to your bowl and eat immediately. Or add your toppings to the bowl, top with cheese and broil for three minutes in the oven.
Cheesy Baked Squash
This saucy squash idea will fill your tummy with the creaminess of cheese and the healthiness of vegetables.Once the squash has been fully cooked, add the warm spaghetti strands to a bowl of ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, garlic, and pepper. Stir the ingredients and return them to the squash bowl. Top with your favorite cheese – cheddar, mozzarella or something a bit spicier. Return it to the oven for 2-3 minutes under the broiler.
Teriyaki Spaghetti Squash
For a quick weeknight Asian-inspired dish, try a teriyaki spaghetti squash meal. Stir fry a selection of vegetables or meats like:
- snow peas
- chicken or pork or beef
- tofu cubes
Add a bottle of teriyaki sauce, or make your own, and combine the ingredients with the cooked spaghetti squash. It’s a healthy and warm meal after work.
After cooking spaghetti squash, there is sometimes still lots left over. Breakfast is an easily overlooked meal, one where squash is not usually included. Sauteed with some onion and olive oil, the squash will resemble a typical breakfast hash. Top it off with a fried egg and some bacon, and its a fresh change on the typical diner breakfast.
Weekly Meal Preparation
Busy families enjoy preparing their meals for the week in advance. Spaghetti squash is the ideal vegetable for pre-made pasta dishes. Unlike pasta, which can get dry or sometimes soggy after being refrigerated, this squash tends to hold its texture.Just a couple of minutes in the microwave is enough to reheat the squash and can be enjoyed right away. As part of a packed lunch, it is also delicious cold as part of a pasta salad.
The most common mistake when preparing spaghetti squash is overcooking. It is important to remember that the squash will not be exactly the same texture as pasta. Cooking it too long may leave you with a soggy mess.After cooking the squash for the recommended time, check on it. If it seems almost done, it probably is – and may continue to cook a little bit after removal from the oven.
Why You Should Give it a Try
Spaghetti squash is a low-carb alternative to pasta. In addition to this it only contains 42 calories per one-cup serving. You can easily grow it in a household garden or balcony pot. It lasts for weeks in the refrigerator, so stock up on them when there’s a sale at the local market.