By Tami Weiser
Well-loved and widely available, spaghetti squash has many practical benefits for cooks and eaters alike. It’s easy to prepare and cook, stores well before cutting, and lasts quite a while after it’s baked. It also happens to be very filling and has a distinct texture, unlike other squashes and pumpkins, which are creamy and smooth. The traditional cooking method is to cut it in half, scoop out the seeds and bake until soft. Then the inside can easily be scraped with a fork across the grain and pulled gently into long strings shapes, which look a lot like spaghetti. What’s made it so popular, since the 1990’s, is its usefulness as a pasta substitute. It doesn’t taste like spaghetti but it sure looks and behaves like spaghetti, with fewer calories, far less GI index effects than any pasta or most grains. It’s a kid favorite and family-friendly option whether you serve it like spaghetti, with tomato sauce and meatballs, or by itself, spicy or sweet.
The Nutritional Benefits of Spaghetti Squash
One cup of cooked spaghetti squash contains 42 calories. It contains mostly carbs, around 10 grams per portion, and a small amount of protein, 1 gram. Spaghetti squash contains some but few vitamins and minerals, with vitamin C topping the list at 9% of RDI and manganese at 8% of RDI. At 9% of the RDI for fiber, it’s quite filling and is often part of many diets for folks with GI issues. While spaghetti squash may not be overflowing with as many nutrients like some other squashes, it’s key assets are on target with many diets, making it a huge player in the veggie department, ready for you to try at home.
Buying Spaghetti Squash
- Appearance: Spaghetti squash skin should have (relatively) a smooth, dry surface, with few blemishes and scrapes and no gashes that cut into the flesh. Green tinges and discoloration is a sign that it wasn’t quite ripe enough and probably won’t ripen any further, so to assure the best taste, it’s best to avoid green-hued spaghetti squash.
- Size: If you are in the store, select a squash that feels heavy for its size in comparison to others of like size. Be wary of the giant ones which can easily get a little straw-like inside. Smaller and medium-size squashes tend to be a better option.
- Storage: Moisture is the enemy of this squash so be wary of storing uncooked, or even cooked squash, in the fridge for longer than a few days. Our friends at The Spruce showcase a clever take on prepping spaghetti squash for meal planning: Buy a bunch, cook, scoop, label, and freeze. Cooked squash will keep for a month easily but after that check for freezer burn.
3 Ways to Prep and Cook Spaghetti Squash
This recipe is a true classic. Cut, scoop to remove the seeds( I like to use a fork, not a spoon, so I can grab seeds a bit better) and bake until the edges are golden brown. Remove the seeds and scrape the squash until those lovely strands begin to shape up. If you are looking for little innovation, but want the advantages of roasting squash, this clever recipe from Eatingbirdfood.com is worth a look: The squash is cleaned and seeded, then cut into pretty rings before roasting. The small size cuts down on cooking time and gets plenty of golden yumminess, but it doesn’t shred into spaghetti shapes well.
Here’s yet another handy purpose for the air fryer. It’s a smart and quick way to get those browned tops while still keeping the center tender and great for spaghetti-izing. A win-win for sure.
This method is the fastest, even faster than a microwave. Instant Pott-ed spaghetti squash creates that has just the right moisture level neither too liquidy nor too dry. Instant Pot spaghetti squash truly is the goldilocks way to get spaghetti squash on the table quickly, but with the very best texture intact.