Spaghetti Squash: The Basics
I remember my first spaghetti squash experience. I’d previously thought, “meh, I guess I should try this stuff out but…how cool can it really be?” But then when it came time to rake the inside to separate the spaghetti strands, everything changed. It was pure, cathartic, spaghetti squash joy. You suddenly feel like the chef of all chefs and as you gently rake at it with a fork and spaghetti is just magically appearing in front of you and there’s no end and the idea of ever cooking normal spaghetti again has instantly become so obsolete…
It’s pretty great. And I shall convince you of that this week!
How to find spaghetti squash
Choose a spaghetti squash that is heavy for its size and is free of blemishes or soft spots. The yellow-er the ripe-r! Though this is technically classified as a winter squash, with a season spanning autumn and winter, you’ll likely be able to find this squash year round due to its growing popularity. And while it’s almost universally known as spaghetti squash, you may also hear it called “vegetable spaghetti”, “noodle squash”, or “vegetable marrow”.
Variations of spaghetti squash
From what I can tell, there are two varieties of this. There’s the traditional yellow spaghetti squash, then there’s an orange variety called “orangetti”. I couldn’t find the orangetti at my grocery or really even in many pictures online, but I’m pretty positive it’s just an orange spaghetti squash. And thus less spaghetti-looking, less likely to trick us into thinking we’re eating spaghetti, and not worth our time.
How to Cook Spaghetti Squash
There are a few ways to cook the squash, but first you’ve got to prepare it correctly. And if you’ve ever made spaghetti squash, you probably did it wrong. Rather than cutting lengthwise then scooping everything out, cut your squash into 1 to 2 inch discs. You’ll get longer spaghetti strands and more evenly cooked pieces! So cut it into discs (using a sharp chef or serrated knife), remove the seeds and gunk around the seeds, then cook.
- Bake: Place discs on a lightly greased sheet and drizzle with a touch of olive oil over the insides of the discs. Bake at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes, or until strands easily pull apart from squash when raked with a fork.
- Boil: Submerge discs in boiling water until tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Though slightly quicker, you’ll lose more water-soluble vitamins with this method.
- Microwave: Set discs on a microwave-safe dish and fill the dish with about an inch of water. Microwave on high for 10 minutes, or until strands easily pull apart from squash, flipping the pieces at 5 minutes.
- Crock-Pot: Plop the whole squash in a crock pot, poke some holes in it with a fork, cover with about 2 cups of water and set on low for 6 to 8 hours. Slit open, remove seeds, and rake out spaghetti.
- Halved: But if you don’t want to cut your squash into discs (like if you want to serve your noodles in a spaghetti squash boat!), then cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and gunk. Brush with olive oil and place face down and cook in any of the ways listed above.
After cooking, allow squash to cool just enough to touch, then gently rake at the inside with a fork to release the spaghetti strands.
Also, look! The little seed that could.
How to store spaghetti squash
Spaghetti squash that is stored in a cool (60 degrees F) and dry place can stay good for up to 3 months. Once cut, store in an airtight container in the fridge. You can also freeze leftover cooked spaghetti squash. Just portion the “noodles” out into sandwich bags, squeeze out the air, and freeze! Simple thaw a few portions at room temperature when you’re ready to serve.
Spaghetti squash nutrition information
per 2 cups (310 g) cooked (no salt) spaghetti squash
- Calories: 84
- Carbohydrates: 20g
- Fiber: 4g, 18% Daily Value (DV)
- Protein: 2g
- Fat: 0g
- 18% DV of Vitamin C: A water-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant to fight against potentially damaging free radicals (molecules with unshared electrons that float around wreaking havoc) and an important cofactor in collagen synthesis.
- 16% DV of Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): A water-soluble vitamin that works behind the scenes as a coenzyme in many important reactions within your body, including protein metabolism and red blood cell formation, among countless other functions.
- 16% DV of Manganese: A trace element that plays a role in healthy brain and nervous system function.
- 12% DV of Niacin (Vitamin B3): A water-soluble vitamin that is a precursor to NAD, a coenzyme important for breakdown of macronutrients into fuel. Niacin may also reduce risk of cardiovascular disease.
- 10% DV of Potassium: A key mineral and electrolyte involved in countless processes, including healthy nervous system functioning and contraction of the heart and muscles.
- 6% DV of Vitamin A: Provides the provitamin version of this fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it comes from a plant source and your body converts the plant pigment into active Vitamin A. It is essential in many components of healthy vision, as well as immunity and cell growth/differentiation.
- 6% DV of Iron: A major component of hemoglobin, the proteins that make up red blood cells and carry oxygen around the body. This is a non-heme source, meaning it does not come from an animal. It is not absorbed as well as heme iron.