How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash is easy to cook and
a great vessel for a variety of sauces

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Straight from the Forq Kitchen!
by Jacob Dean


How to Cook Spaghetti Squash

Tips, tricks, and solid instructions

Every spring and summer for the past few years I’ve signed up for a share with a CSA; it’s basically one of the greatest food things that a person can do. A CSA, which stands for “Community Supported Agriculture”, is a pretty simple idea: a farmer wants to grow crops, but if they’re a small and independent operation it’s hard for them to afford to grow what they’d like, and difficult for them to forecast how much money they might make. CSAs are great because you pay up front (meaning the farmers get your money ahead of time so that they can go do their thing) and then later in the season you get a big box of random vegetables to play with.

One thing that spaghetti squash has going for it:
it’s easy to cook and a great vessel for a variety
of sauces. Because of its mild flavor
it’s happy to take the supporting role in a dish,
and it pairs well with bold preparations.

Why_SS_4

CSAs are wonderful for recipe development because you’re basically guaranteed to end up with a weird vegetable you have no experience with. It’s easy to get stuck in a cooking rut, particularly during the darker months, where you find yourself making the same recipes over and over again. Variety is the key to happiness, particularly if you find yourself saying more and more often, “let’s order in tonight!”.

Of course, there is also a downside to participating in a CSA, or in going to the grocery store in an attempt to branch out. If you’re anything like me you’ll either shop when you’re hungry and buy something you later regret, or your CSA will let you down and you’ll end up with something sitting on your counter that you either don’t know how to prepare or simply are not at all excited about.

For me, that item used to be a spaghetti squash. Spaghetti squash is one of those vegetables that people often talk a mean game about (usually chipper, unrealistically skinny Crossfit people humble-bragging about their quads on Twitter), but which is often disappointing after being cooked. I can tell you that until recently I simply did not see the appeal. Like many, I find that just the idea of squash can be a hard sell.

And honestly, who can blame us poor, beleaguered squash-questioners? Those prototypical yellow, flavorless summer squashes, often appearing with sliced zucchini to form the world’s least interesting steamed vegetable combo, are honestly depressing. If someone were to map out a supermarket produce section in the same way that sailors used to cover maps with pictures of krakens and mermaids, the section of the store with the squash would be labeled “here there be boredom”.

Well, there came a time when I could ignore my CSA spaghetti squash no longer. It has a ridiculous shelf life and for weeks (if not months) it sat on top of my microwave, staring at me like the big, never-blinking vegetarian Eye of Sauron. Finally it was time to figure out what to do with this thing. And you know what? With the right approach it can be both surprising and satisfying!

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Spaghetti squash is as inoffensive a vegetable as you’re going to find. Rather egg-like in appearance, it has a smooth rind with a color that can vary between ivory, pale yellow, and orange. The interior (once you’ve removed the seeds and stringy innards) is either custard-yellow or orange, with firm flesh. Plus, if you’re wondering how to cook one of these things, the answer is that it’s actually quite easy. After being sliced in half, cleaned, and baked (or microwaved!) the mild-tasting flesh flakes into long, spaghetti-like strands. It’s easy on the stomach and quite unlike any other squash you’re likely to bump into. It’s also exceptionally low in calories, and clocks in at between 30 to 40 calories per cup after being cooked. Compare that with 221 calories per cup of cooked spaghetti and it’s easy to see why it’s being embraced by people who like to post pictures of themselves in their underpants on the internet.

Famous_chefs_5

However, it is time to be honest with each other. Spaghetti squash, you might be trying to fool us into thinking that you’re like spaghetti, but we all know that’s not true. The secret is out, and it’s time to stop living a lie. And the thing is, it’s ok! Spaghetti squash, you do you. Just because pasta has more curb appeal doesn’t mean you don’t have something to offer. You might not be the most exciting thing to cook with, and you’re not the food of emperors, but just because you’re not going to be prom queen doesn’t mean that you won’t make a splash on the dance floor. You just need a little bit of a makeover.

In that vein, one thing that spaghetti squash absolutely does have going for it is the fact that it is easy to cook and is a great vessel for a variety of sauces. Because of its mild flavor it’s happy to take the supporting role in a dish, and it pairs well with bold preparations. It’s also remarkably easy to cook once you become comfortable cutting it in half.

Because of its versatility, it’s easy to find a recipe to suit almost anyone. Spaghetti squash is a good foundation to build on because it’s not a particularly strong tasting food. This means you don’t have to worry about it interrupting a nicely prepared sauce with an unexpected or undesirable flavour.

Why_SS_5

“Spaghetti Squash” here at Forq will introduce you to a number of recipes that will steer your cooking in the right direction. It might not actually be very much like spaghetti, but it does still lend itself to being served with pasta sauces and you’re basically guaranteed to find some crowd pleasing recipes. Spaghetti squash can also be combined with other ingredients and fried into cakes (think latkes but with less guilt), and this squash is beautiful when served with curry. Even better, squash is also forgiving, which is absolutely a blessing for the adventurous cook. The squash itself basically gets prepared just one way and then incorporated into (or served underneath) whatever your chosen sauce is. It’s obvious when its undercooked, and when it’s a bit overcooked (which happens to the best of us) it will still hold its shape and texture nicely.

At the end of the day spaghetti squash is healthy, easy to make, and hard to screw up. Take a chance, buy a squash that is frequently overlooked, and dive in!

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Who’s Cooking Today

Jacob Dean

Jacob Dean is a freelance food and travel writer, recipe tester, and culinary product reviewer based in Washington, D.C. He is a regular contributor to The Cook’s Cook Magazine, DCist, Industree, has freelanced as a recipe tester for the New York Times, and has been published by the Washington Post. Jacob has tried over twelve hundred unique beers (he keeps count).
You can find him online at jacobdeanwrites.com, on Twitter as @SchadenJake, and on Facebook as Jacob Dean Writes.

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The full FORQ spaghetti squash archive, straight from our FORQ Enthusiasts.

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Spaghetti Squash with brown butter, walnuts, and goat cheese

This dish is easy to prepare and uses the classic flavors of brown butter and walnuts and pairs them with spaghetti squash, goat cheese, and marjoram for a twist on tradition.

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A simple, delicious preparation suitable for any time of year.

Thai Spaghetti Squash Salad

A perfect dish for a hot summer day, this cold spaghetti squash salad is sweet, sour, and tangy.


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