Feb 262013
 
wholesquash

Hey there! How is everyone doing today? I’ve been feeling a bit sluggish, probably due to the cloudy skies and impending rain we’re supposed to get this afternoon. What is it about grey skies and cold weather that just zaps your energy? This rain should also make my two mile run this evening a blast, don’t you think? Ha.

Anyway, we have more important things to talk about today than the weather. Things like squash. Oh I know, you’re fascinated, right? But after talking about spaghetti squash in my What I Ate Wednesday post last week, I’ve received a few questions from you guys and I thought I would dedicate a post to answering your questions.

If squash bores you (what, you don’t think it’s fascinating ;) lol) feel free to skip this post today. I understand. Really, I do. Not everyone is as enthralled with veggies like I am. But I like spaghetti squash and apparently you guys do too, so here’s a little spaghetti squash 101 for those who are interested.

What is spaghetti squash?

Spaghetti squash is a large yellow winter squash with flesh that becomes long and stringy (like spaghetti) when cooked. It shouldn’t be cooked like a regular squash (i.e., diced) because it will be too stringy.

Instead, the squash needs to be cooked whole (or cut in half) and then you can shred up the insides. Spaghetti squash is not pasta and it’s not a method of cooking squash. It’s a type of squash that you buy in the store.

Why should I try spaghetti squash?

I personally love spaghetti squash because although it’s a vegetable, you can treat it like pasta. It has a pretty mild taste and since it has the consistency of al dente spaghetti, it makes a great healthy meal. I should clarify that spaghetti squash isn’t exactly like pasta (you will definitely notice a difference), but it’s similar enough that even Fabio, who would gladly eat pasta every day for the rest of his life, gets excited when we have spaghetti squash.

Spaghetti squash is also low in calories and full of Vitamin A and potassium. Spaghetti squash is also incredibly filling and even though you might think, “I’m just eating squash for dinner, that will never keep me satisfied,” you are likely to find yourself really full after eating it.

How to buy spaghetti squash

Even though spaghetti squash is a winter squash, you should be able to find it in the grocery store year-round. When buying a squash, you just want to look for one that feels pretty heavy for it’s size and is firm to the touch. It’s ok if it looks a little banged up on the outside; you won’t be eating that part anyway. Just make sure there are no soft spots and that the outside is firm.

You can find spaghetti squash in the produce section of most grocery stores where you would buy other whole squash like acorn squash or butternut squash. It shouldn’t be too hard to track down, except that I do know that the Trader Joe’s in downtown Manhattan doesn’t sell them (haha thank you Vic for sharing this knowledge with me). Otherwise finding spaghetti squash should be pretty easy!

How to cook spaghetti squash

Once you buy your squash, it will last for a while until you’re ready to use it. I always use mine up within a few days simply because I love it and rarely have it around, but it should last for a few weeks on your counter until you’re ready to use it.

When you are ready to use your squash, there are a couple of ways you can cook it. One option is to roast it in the oven. If you were to cook it this way, you would want to cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, drizzle some olive oil, salt, and pepper over the squash halves, and roast them hollow-side down in a 375 degree oven for about 35 to 45 minutes until the outside skin gives easily when pressed.

However, I don’t usually feel like spending that much time on dinner (especially on weekdays!) so I opt to microwave my spaghetti squash instead. True, I’m lazy, but I also don’t really taste a difference in roasted vs. microwaved spaghetti squash, so I’d rather save the time.

To cook your squash in the microwave, you first want to use a sharp knife to poke holes all over your squash. Oh yeah, if it has a sticker on it you should probably take that off too ;)

Then place your squash on a microwave-safe dish and cook it on high for about 4 – 5 minutes per pound. This one weighed about 3 pounds, so I microwaved it for 12 minutes. Halfway through the cook time, you need to flip your squash over so the other side can cook. The squash is cooked when you can easily press down on the outside skin.

At this point, use oven mits to take your squash out of the microwave (the dish will be hot!) and let your squash cool for about 5 minutes.

Once you can handle the squash, cut it in half length-wise.

Then use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and the slimier-looking strands of squash.

Once the seeds are removed, use a fork to scrape the stringy insides of the squash into a bowl.

At this point you can drizzle the spaghetti squash with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and your favorite pasta toppings.

Spaghetti squash tastes great with pesto, alfredo sauce, tomato sauce, or whatever you would normally eat with spaghetti. I like to top mine with tomato sauce and turkey meatballs or chicken sausage.

Yummm :)

So there you have it, now you know all about spaghetti squash! I hope I have given you enough information to go out and cook your own spaghetti squash, but of course there are a ton of other resources online that can tell you other ways to prepare it.

I’ve heard you can also boil or steam spaghetti squash, but I haven’t tried it myself. If anyone has, please let me know how it went!

Question of the day: Do you like spaghetti squash? How do you like to eat it?

 Posted by on February 26, 2013