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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Spaghetti Squash

Anna at SideChef
Content Specialist. Bitten by curiosity bug. Obsessed with words. Fuelled by coffee. Powered by Google. Love cheese, chocolate, and cherries. Don’t judge your taco by its price.
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Anna at SideChef
Content Specialist. Bitten by curiosity bug. Obsessed with words. Fuelled by coffee. Powered by Google. Love cheese, chocolate, and cherries. Don’t judge your taco by its price.
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Can I have everyone's attention, please? I just want to remind you about the versatile and very underrated spaghetti squash.

This humble winter squash has never gotten the recognition it really deserves. We have embraced pumpkin and made it the queen of fall produce; butternut squash joins pumpkin and pretty much rules Thanksgiving, and the fancy-shaped acorn squash gets love for being "the pretty one".

The way we treat spaghetti squash is simply unfair. Not to mention all the common misconceptions about it. Let's quash those myths once and for all:


  • You CAN get spaghetti squash all year round and not just in 'winter.'

  • You DON'T need a hacksaw to cut it in half

  • Baking spaghetti squash is NOT the only way to cook it

  • It DOESN'T taste bland


Now let's take a minute and answer all the questions you might have about spaghetti squash: what is it? How to choose one? How to cut it? How to cook it? And What to make with it.

Why do they call it spaghetti squash?

Spaghetti squash gets its name for a pretty obvious reason - when you cook this winter squash, the flesh naturally develops threads that resemble spaghetti. That's why it's all the rave in the low-carb and keto communities.

It is a fantastic pasta substitute! Let's be honest, though; you are not going to miraculously trick yourself into thinking that spaghetti squash is actually pasta. But it can replace pasta dishes in the sense that it gives you the tasty low-carbohydrate, low-calorie alternative for pasta noodles; and you can enjoy a huge bowl of this steamy yummy noodle-like squash totally guilt-free; its fiber content makes it very filling, and the texture supports any sauce or seasoning you usually enjoy on pasta. It even twirls around your fork the same exact way.

Which squash is lowest in calories?

Spaghetti squash wins this title leaving all the other squash varieties far behind. And don't think that it's void of nutrients; it's rich in fiber, Vitamin A, beta carotene, Vitamin C, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, just to name a few. All that while only containing 42 calories per cup.

What does spaghetti squash taste like?

Opposite to common misconceptions about 'diet' foods, spaghetti squash is very flavorful. It has a beautiful mild nutty flavor and a nice smooth texture with a slight crunch.

When is Spaghetti Squash in Season and What to look for When Buying It?

Don't let the word 'winter' trick you into thinking that winter squash varieties are only available in winter. Spaghetti squash is generally available all year round, peaking in early fall and staying in season throughout the winter.

It's oval yellow squash with thick hard skin, very different from the bell-shaped butternut squash.

When shopping for spaghetti squash, look for a firm and smooth vegetable that doesn't have any spots or blemishes and is of nice golden yellow color. When you tap it slightly, you should hear a hollow sound. And it's best if the stem is still attached to it.

The skin of the squash should be very thick and hard. If you use your fingernail to poke it, you will know it's ripe if your nail can't penetrate the squash.

Local farmer's markets are the best option in fall and winter, where spaghetti squash will likely be available. And the reason we call these a winter variety is because they can be stored all through the winter for up to three months.

How to Store Uncooked Spaghetti Squash

Raw whole spaghetti squash can last for up to three months in a cool and dark place. Once you cut it open, you should cook it within five days. Cooked spaghetti squash stays okay to eat for about four days.

How to Freeze Spaghetti Squash

You can even freeze cooked spaghetti squash and have it ready whenever you need it. Ensure that it's fully cooked and chilled before you freeze it and remove the excess liquid so it doesn't get too watery when reheated. It can stay in your freezer for up to 8 months.

Don't freeze uncooked squash. It will change its texture, not to mention it will take forever to defrost. It's available year-round, after all.

The Easiest Way to Cut Spaghetti Squash: Tips and Tricks

It can be a bit tricky to cut this squash as it is very hard and rolls easily. There are a few things you can do to make it easier.


  1. Microwave it for a few minutes; it will soften it up just enough to cut without struggling. Simply poke a few holes in it with a fork and place it in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. Don't leave it in for longer than 3 minutes, or you may end up cooking it.

  2. Make sure to secure your cutting board to prevent it from moving. Cut the tip-top and bottom edges off the squash first using a sharp knife. Then turn it upright and cut downwards. It's much easier than cutting it horizontally.

  3. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon. And don't throw those away. If you like pumpkin seeds, then you will love roasted spaghetti squash seeds just as much.

  4. The general rule is only to cut the squash horizontally (lengthwise), but you could cut it in half crosswise as well. It doesn't affect the texture too much.

Every Way You Can Cook Spaghetti Squash

Oven: baking or roasting

Cooking spaghetti squash in the oven is the most popular and easy way. If you like this idea, you can either cut the squash in half or cook it whole.

The traditional way is placing your halved squash on a baking sheet cut side down. But it can turn out a bit watery sometimes. Opposite to the popular cut side down method, season and drizzle your halved squash with oil and cook it in the oven cut side up. It's a game-changer!

Baking squash cut side up makes the spaghetti-like strands more defined, elevates the flavor, and you never get the undesirable watery consistency.

Tips:


  • The best temperature for roasting this squash is 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). But make sure to check on it and add or reduce the temperature if needed.

  • It should take about 40 minutes to cook the halved squash in the oven. But it depends on its size.

  • You can add more flavor by placing a few sprigs of your favorite fresh herbs alongside the spaghetti squash while baking. Rosemary, thyme, or even sage and mint if you prefer.

It is my favorite way to cook it and a guaranteed way to get a delicious result. Take a look at these roasted spaghetti squash recipes for some inspiration:

Microwave: quick and easy

If you need a super quick method to cook spaghetti squash, then just microwave it. Microwaved squash has almost the same consistency as roasted one, and you can easily swap the oven-roasted one for its microwaved version.

How to prep the squash for the microwave:


  • Cut and season the same way you'd do for the oven.

  • Place the halves cut side down into a microwave-safe dish. And fill it with water about 1 inch deep.

  • Depending on the size of your squash, it can take anywhere between 10 to 20 minutes on a high setting.


Be aware:

If you are not pressed on time and can wait, just oven cook the squash. It always turns out more flavorful this way. Baking it also takes care of all the excess moisture; microwaving doesn't.

Slow Cooker/ Crockpot: easy, not quick

Cooking squash in a slow cooker or a crockpot is the most low-effort way, but it does take a while. About 4 hours, to be precise.

How to prep the squash for the slow cooker or crockpot:


  • Tthere's no need to cut the spaghetti squash for this cooking method. Clean it and leave it whole.

  • Make sure to poke it with a fork or a small sharp knife to allow steam to get out while it's cooking.

  • Depending on the size, you can cook it on a high setting for about 4 hours. Or for 5 hours and up if you choose to cook on low.

Pressure Cooker/Instant Pot: 7-minute magic

In general, you should follow the recommendations given in the manual for your specific instant pot. But some pressure cooker spaghetti squash rules are universal

How to prep the squash for the pressure cooker or instant pot:


  • It's best to cut spaghetti squash crosswise for this method. You will get longer and well-defined spaghetti-like strands.

  • Place the cut halves in the steamer basket (or the steamer insert you have), and into the pressure cooker, add about 1/2 cup of water and seal the lid.

  • It will take around 7 minutes on high pressure setting to cook it all the way through.

Tip:

Don't forget that it takes the pressure cooker a few minutes to build up the pressure. So the actual cooking time should start when the high pressure is reached, about 5-10 minutes in, depending on the model.

Choose the cooking method you like best and enjoy the low-cal high-satisfaction gem of this winter squash variety.

Here are some more spaghetti squash recipes for you:

The delicious meals you can cook with this versatile vegetable are not limited to pasta. You can make casseroles, chilis, low-carb crusts for pizzas and pies, and even tacos! Check out some of our absolute favorite recipes with spaghetti squash, and get cooking!

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