How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

I've had a couple people mention to me that they'd like to try spaghetti squash, but they don't know how to cook it. Well, time to fix that situation!  Spaghetti squash is not only nutritious, it's low in calories and great in a variety of dishes.

Choosing a squash

Although it's considered a winter squash like acorn and butternut, most grocery stores carry spaghetti squash year-round. Choose a squash without any soft spots.  Lately I've become a fan of a new variety that is smaller and darker yellow than the traditional spaghetti squash, but both are tasty.

Preparing the squash

Wash and dry the squash. Drying is important because a wet squash is a slippery squash, and that can lead to a dangerous situation when cutting.  Use a heavy knife or cleaver to cut the squash in half lengthwise. If the skin of the squash is too hard to cut through, you can soften it by cooking briefly in the microwave.  Prick the skin of the squash with a fork five or six times, then place the whole squash in the microwave and heat on high for one to two minutes.  Remove it from the microwave and place on a cutting board.  You should now be able to cut through the squash without a problem.  Using the edge of a spoon, scrape out the seeds and pulp.

Cut squash in half lengthwise.

Cut squash in half lengthwise.

Scoop out the seeds and pulp. 

Scoop out the seeds and pulp. 

And into the oven

Put the squash in a baking dish, cut side down.  Add about one inch of water to the dish, then place in an oven preheated to 350 degrees.  Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the squash is tender when stuck with a fork.  If you want to speed up the process, cover tightly with aluminum foil and reduce the time to about 30 minutes.  Be careful not to overcook it because the wonderful spaghetti-like consistency will turn to mush.

Into the oven it goes, with a little water in the dish.

Into the oven it goes, with a little water in the dish.

After cooling, pull the strands of squash apart with the tines of a fork.

After cooling, pull the strands of squash apart with the tines of a fork.

Once cooked, remove the squash from the dish, turn cut side up and allow to cool.  Using a fork, pull the squash into strands that resemble spaghetti noodles, placing them in a bowl. Pour off any water that may drain from the strands. 

Now you have yummy spaghetti squash just waiting to be used in your favorite dish.  Try it topped with marinara, pesto, or sauteed veggies. 

What's your favorite way to eat spaghetti squash?