Up until recently, I had never cooked a squash. Nor had I tasted a squash. In fact, I had never even seen the inside of one, beside a pumpkin. So when I decided to bring home a spaghetti squash (also called a noodle squash) from the grocery store, I was at a loss of what to do with the beastly thing. But the thought of possibly discovering a new healthy dinner and further expanding my weight loss/fitness journey practically lured the squash home itself.
I waited until the next night to cook it, so for an entire day this big, oval-shaped, yellow monstrosity hung out on my counter taunting me with the unknown. But after cooking the squash for the first time, I can now give you a healthy recipe for a spaghetti squash meal. Actually, the preparation of the squash is so simple, I don’t think it can be part of a recipe.
There’s a little more detail to it, but it is actually that easy to cook such a confusing looking vegetable (or fruit, if you want to take the seeds into consideration and use the technical label).
Wash the Squash
When the time came to cook the spaghetti squash, I figured the first step was to wash it. Phew – even my rookie self can accomplish that! Then I plopped that big ol’ squash down on a baking sheet and stuffed it into my preheated-to-375 oven.
Cook Until Tender
While the spaghetti squashed baked, I Googled around for some baking time estimates. General consensus is basically anywhere from 30 min to an hour an a half in an oven around 375 degrees F. The length of time really depends on the size of your spaghetti squash. Mine was definitely not the biggest of the bunch, so after 45 minutes, I tested the shell resistance. My knife easily slid into the shell then quickly plunged through the rest of the innards. It seemed done to me.
Slice in Half
Time for the big reveal. I gingerly sliced my newly baked squash in half and voila! The inside was not what I was expecting, though I couldn’t begin to tell you what it was I was expecting. For some reason I never connected the relationship between a spaghetti squash and a pumpkin, but when I pulled apart the two squash halves, I had a pumpkin carving flashback. The smell. The texture. The seeds. Everything screamed “pumpkin”.
Scoop the Goop
Next, I scooped out the very center – the seeded area- then I forked out the rest. I had the two “areas” separate, because I wasn’t quite sure if I was supposed to keep or toss the middle. After tasting a strand from both sections, I determined that the middle wasn’t as tasty or tender as the surrounding squash, and I tossed it.
I knew that one could substitute the noodles in regular spaghetti for spaghetti squash. Makes sense considering the name is spaghetti squash. So along with the squash, I made some homemade spaghetti sauce (a can of crushed tomatoes, a can of tomato sauce, lean ground turkey, chopped spinach, chopped onion, garlic, and pepper) and some regular whole wheat noodles- just in case my squash tasted horrible.
Gobble it up
I heaped a serving of squash and a serving of spaghetti, including the noodles, onto my plate and dug in. It was actually quite delicious. By the end, I had stirred the squash into the sauce and noodles and plowed through a couple servings. The squash adds a slight buttery taste and a stiffer texture that almost replaces garlic bread. My husband, who isn’t as fond of my creative experiments as I am, even had multiple servings of the squash. It was a success!
Now that I know what to expect from the spaghetti squash, I really can’t fathom how even I could mess up such a dish. If it’s undercooked, just microwave it or bake it longer. I don’t know if it’s actually possible to overcook it so severely it’s inedible. It’s healthy, it’s easy, it’s scrumptious. So I say this is a safe place to start if you are looking to try some new fresh produce.
But in order to decrease the carbs, I will not be using noodles the next time I cook a spaghetti squash. If you substitute the noodles and garlic bread for squash, you will be saving about 37 carbs (and that’s if you eat modest servings). Also, with this “recipe”, there are 4 different vegetables involved! That right there is a mighty accomplishment for me – I’ve only been seriously using vegetables for 3 years.
Upon further investigation, I have discovered that spaghetti squash is a winter squash and that every part of it is edible, which it awesome. Also, the calorie content is very low, only 42 calories per serving, along with zero grams of fat. Although the vitamin and mineral content isn’t as high as other winter squash (due to the high water content), it does contain 8% of the DV for fiber and 9% of the DV for vitamin C. But the extra vegetables in the sauce adds even more nutrients.
I say “yay!” to spaghetti squash and encourage you to haul one home, especially if you are looking for healthy meals and diet tricks like myself.
Virginia Van Vynckt “Spaghetti Squash Nutrition Value” Livestrong