You recognize an acorn squash. You can readily distinguish a butternut squash. And, you have probably at least noticed a yellow cylinder shaped squash displayed alongside these familiar winter squashes at your supermarket. This, my friends, is a spaghetti squash.
Spaghetti squash is high in nutrients, low in calories and carbohydrates, easy to prepare, and an excellent (though slightly crispier) substitute for pasta. The squash itself has a mild flavor and complements a wide range of spices and sauces. Toss it with corn, black beans, cheddar cheese, cumin, and cilantro for a Mexican meal. Top it with a creamy alfredo or fresh marinara sauce, parmesan cheese, and chopped basil for an Italian dinner. For a simple and fresh dish, combine the squash with a little olive oil, garlic, black pepper, and sautéed or roasted seasonal vegetables.
Spaghetti squash can be cooked in the oven or the microwave. To bake the squash, pierce it several times with a fork. Cook the whole squash on a cookie sheet or in a baking dish at 400 degrees for about an hour, or until the squash is soft. Let the squash cool for 15 or 20 minutes, then cut it in half lengthwise and scrape out the flesh with a fork to separate the strands of squash.
The quicker (and my preferred) appliance for preparing the squash is the microwave. Cut the squash lengthwise, and use a spoon to remove the seeds. Place the squash halves cut side up in a baking or casserole dish. Add ½ cup water to the dish and tightly cover the dish with plastic wrap. Microwave the squash for ten minutes or until the flesh is tender. Let the squash rest in the microwave for five or ten minutes to allow the dish to cool down. Use a fork to scrape out the strands. In less than twenty minutes, you’ll have a bowl of golden “noodles.”
Odds are that if you didn’t care for spaghetti squash the first time around, it was probably due to the way the squash was prepared rather than the vegetable itself. Don’t be afraid to give it another shot. My husband prohibited me from making spaghetti squash for almost a year after a mishap involving a combination of cream sauce and squash. This week, I served the squash with a homemade marinara sauce, roasted vegetables (carrots, onions, and mushrooms), and parmesan cheese. Dinner was delicious and spaghetti squash is no longer banned from our house!