A Little Word on Spaghetti Squash

The winter squash I wish I'd known about years ago.

Sometimes called vegetable spaghetti, noodle squash, or the gold string melon, this gourd is one of my favorite new bites of the year.

Averaging at about 45 calories per cup, and high in potassium,  Vitamin A and other key nutrients, this is one of those rare moments where the food you’ll want to go back to for seconds and thirds won’t cause a repentant stomach.

So what is it? An oblong, yellow gourd with a uniquely-textured flesh that pulls away from the rind in thin, spaghetti-like strands when cooked.

I’ve tried preparing this product a number of ways, and have found that baking it produces the best effect.

For best results, halve the spaghetti squash lengthwise with a chef’s knife.

A Little Warning: This is the most difficult part of the process.  Spaghetti squash can be very difficult to cut.  If you are struggling, try microwaving the squash for 1 to 2 minutes.  Depending on the squash’s size, this can help soften the rind.

Once separated into two equal halves, remove the seeds and pulp from the center.

A Little Tip: Save the seeds! These can be treated just like pumpkin seeds, baked for 5-10 minutes with a little bit of salt, pepper, and olive oil. These make a great snack, but keep an eye on portion size.  Like nuts, squash seeds are high in good fats, but have the calories to match. A quarter cup may have 75-100 calories, depending on how much oil you use and the size of the seeds.

The good news is, that’s the hardest part! The rest is a little bit of waiting, and then the childish joy of playing with your food.

Lay the squash halves face down on a foil-lined baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes.  Because the size of spaghetti squashes can vary drastically, the time can vary significantly.  Try not to start this process if you’re already hungry, however, as it will not take less than twenty minutes.

Check on the status of your squash by trying to press a fork through the rind.  When a fork can pierce the rind, your squash is ready for the final stage.

I'm a big fan of foods that make playing with your dinner socially acceptable.

Allow your squash to cool before attempting this phase.  Another sign your squash is ready? That delicious golden coler around the edge of the rind.

Take a fork, and scrape at the inside of the flesh.  If your squash is cooked all the way through, the flesh should easily peel away from the rind in thin golden strands.  If this is proving difficult, try giving the squash another 3-5 minutes in the oven, and then leaving it face down to cool.

One small squash makes 4-6 cups of “spaghetti pasta,” which can be used as a delicious, low-calorie substitute for your favorite pasta recipe.  Whether you’re gluten-free, grain-free, or just looking for a healthy, guilt-free alternative for your pasta craving, spaghetti squash is definitely worth the effort.

This bowl contains about four cups of spaghetti squash, about 180 calories. That much angel hair pasta would be about 840 calories.

Off to find another another little bite,

Melanie

 

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