I’m finally on board with the ‘vegetable pasta’ trend, especially spaghetti squash. Of course, spiralized or shredded vegetables are a very healthy dietary choice. However, calling them ‘pasta’ seems a bit of a stretch, prompting disappointment by all but the most hard-core veggie eaters. Let’s just call them shredded or spiralized vegetables —especially if it helps you eat more veggies overall. Here’s a few tricks to cook spaghetti squash.
Named for the appearance of the cooked flesh, spaghetti squash (Cucurbita maxima) is a grain-free alternative to traditional pasta. High in water content, spaghetti squash is very popular for its lower calorie and carbohydrate content compared to pasta. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, a 1-cup serving of cooked spaghetti squash has about 45 calories and 10 grams of carbohydrate, compared to about 220 calories and 42 grams of carbohydrates for the same amount of regular spaghetti. Further, spaghetti squash is also a very good source of fiber, vitamins C and B6, carotenoids, potassium, antioxidants and minerals.
HOW TO COOK SPAGHETTI SQUASH
Preparing spaghetti squash is as simple as slicing it open, removing the seeds, roasting it, then scooping out the flesh. If you find cutting the gourd in half a challenge, simply roast it whole for about an hour, then slice it open after cooking. Just make sure you pierce it in several places to let steam escape. You can also roast the squash ahead of time, then rewarm it in a saucepan with your sauce of choice.
- Heat oven to 375° F.
- Slice off the top of the gourd, then slice in half length-wise.
- Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds. Save them for roasting or discard.
- Brush the inside of each half with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Place cut sides down on a rimmed baking sheet or baking pan. Line the baking sheet or pan with parchment paper for quick clean-up. Putting some water in the baking pan or in a separate pan of water in the oven will help steam the vegetable and prevent it from drying out.
- Bake for about 40 minutes, or until you can easily pierce the squash with a fork.
- When the squash has cooled enough to handle, use a fork to scrape length-wise, removing the pulp in strands.
And now the fun begins! Ready to sauce it and top it!
Looking for some tips for combining flavors and textures for delicious spaghetti squash dishes, check out this Guide to No-Recipe Spaghetti Squash Dishes.