Culture

[Recipe] Taking the Mystery Out of Spaghetti Squash

You don’t have to be Italian to appreciate a good bowl of pasta. There is definitely a reason Italy is the fifth most visited country in the world. Sure there’s the art, history, architecture, and beautiful scenery, but there’s the pasta too.

The problem with loving pasta so much – at least as much as I do – is that it is obviously heavy on the carbohydrates. A bowl here and there is no big deal, but I am Italian, and I want to eat it all the time!

Fortunately for me, I decided to give spaghetti squash a chance a couple of years ago, and I am so glad that I did. If you have never worked with one before, it can seem a little daunting. But it’s actually incredibly easy to make, it’s delicious, and it can sub in for pasta whenever you want to take a break from too much starch. Yes, practically any sauce or preparation that you would otherwise make for pasta can work with this incredible squash. Allow me to take the mystery out of the process for you. After one meal, you’ll wonder what took you so long to give it a try.

Cutting It

This is where you need to be careful. Similar to cutting other large squashes (like butternut or acorn) if you don’t know what you’re doing, or if your knife isn’t sharp enough, you can slip. You want to make dinner, not lose a finger.

To cut spaghetti squash I actually cheat a little bit, but it helps immensely.

  • Poke the squash several times all the way around with a fork, and then pop it in the microwave for five minutes. This will soften it enough to make cutting it manageable.

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  • Then take a sharp knife (preferably a chef’s knife or something similar) and cut it lengthwise. Careful, it will be a little hot from the microwave, but it should open relatively easily.

 

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  • Remove the seeds.

Cooking It

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees
  • Lightly rub the insides of the squash with olive, and season with salt and pepper
  • Place both sides face down on a cooking sheet
  • Cook for 30-40 minutes (depending on the size of your squash)
  • You’ll know it’s done when you can easily separate the insides into strands. This is the fun part. Separate all of the insides from the shell. I usually use a fork and tongs, but everyone has their own preferred method

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Fun Recipe to Try

Keep in mind that any sauce will be wonderful with squash instead of pasta. Here is a preparation that I threw together recently that ended up being delicious.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 2 cups of chopped tomatoes
  • 5 cup of sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 handful of fresh basil, cut into ribbons
  • 1 teaspoon of capers
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1/3 cup of heavy cream
  • ¼ teaspoon of crushed red pepper (optional, but this amount won’t set anyone’s mouth on fire—it’ll just give a nice bite to the dish)
  • Salt and pepper

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Directions

  • Once the squash has been separated from the shells, set it aside
  • Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet
  • Add the onions and cook for about 2 minutes, until they begin to sweat and become translucent
  • Add the garlic and cook for another minute, until fragrant

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  • Toss in the tomatoes and mushrooms and a dash of salt

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  • Allow the vegetables to cook down a bit, about 5-7 minutes. Stir often to prevent burning or sticking
  • Add the capers, butter, and cream and cook down for about a minute

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  • Add the squash to the pan, along with ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

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  • Toss everything together
  • Add the basil and crushed red pepper and toss lightly. Adjust salt as needed
  • Buon appetito!

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