Spaghetti squash is such a mild-tasting squash. And that’s a good thing. Because like its namesake pasta, spaghetti squash loves being matched up with flavorful sauces and such. Rather than compete, it takes kindly to other flavors.
In these paleo and gluten-free times, spaghetti squash is kind of having a perfect moment. It stands in heroically as a delicious, satisfying substitution for wheat pasta. It’s a sensational substitute because, after you cook it, the fruit easily pulls apart with a fork into thin, spaghetti-like ribbons. Hence, the name.
Even so, you probably won’t confuse the tender strands of squash for the bite of actual pasta. And that’s okay. Spaghetti squash has a tasty, toothy texture all its own. You’ll love it.
And nutrition? Spaghetti squash has nutritional benefits above and beyond regular ol’ spaghetti noodles. The squash has vitamin A, beta carotene, folic acid, and potassium. And it’s low calorie, too. When shopping for spaghetti squash, be aware that the more orange the flesh of the squash, the more beta carotene it has. And that’s a good thing. Spaghetti squash start to peak in early fall and are in prime form into winter. Choose squash with firm, unblemished shells — no soft spots.
How to roast squash in the oven
There’s an easy way and there’s a fast way to roast squash. And they aren’t the same. The easy way is to pop the whole squash into the oven and roast it…for about an hour. The fast way? Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds (save and roast them like pumpkin seeds), and bake the squash halves shell-side up in the oven. But be careful cutting your squash; these are hard, dense, sometimes slippery little guys — and they’re tough to slice through. Check out the note below on safely cutting a spaghetti squash.
To keep your squash moist in the oven, add a little water to the dish, and dome the fruit with aluminum foil. Steam will build up under the foil dome and assist with the cooking process. Halved and baked in a 400 degree F oven, the squash is tender and ready in about 40 minutes. (Here’s a whip-smart trick for turning the squash’s cooked fruit into long, thin, noodly strands.)
How to cook spaghetti squash in the microwave
Okay, yes, it’s faster to cut the squash in half to roast. But if you really feel the need for speed, consider cooking your spaghetti squash in the microwave. You get the same noodly effect, and the squash is tender and pull-aparty in just 15 minutes or so. For microwave cooking, you do need to cut the squash in half. Don’t attempt to nuke a whole spaghetti squash until done: it’s like tossing a big yellow bomb in your microwave. Scoop out the seeds, place the squash cut-side-down in a microwave dish, and add a little water to the dish — it helps keep the squash moist and tender.
How to cut your spaghetti squash in half. The only hard part about cooking a spaghetti squash is cutting your dense, hard, uncooked squash in half. If you’re microwaving — or even roasting — it helps to cook the squash whole a few minutes first in the microwave. I know we just said nuking a squash is like tossing a bomb in the microwave, but it’s only for a few minutes — 5 minutes, tops. But first, jab it with a fork a bunch of times like a baked potato to let the steam out — you do not want that steam building up in there. After several minutes in the microwave, the semi-nuked shell will be softer and easier to cut through.
How to cook spaghetti squash in a slow cooker
Oh yes you can! The slow cooker is both the easiest way to cook a squash and requires the most time. But that’s okay, it’s a slow cooker. Set it up, and then go about your business. Poke holes in the shell like the microwave method, then put it in the slow cooker whole. Pour in water, and cook on low for 4-to-6 hours. Unlike microwaving, slow cooking does not build up extreme steam pressure inside the squash, so you’re safe. It’s not a yellow bomb, more like a yellow submarine — perfectly safe. The flesh shreds up beautifully.
And we have the video to prove this method is totally real:
Recipe: Slow Cooker Spaghetti Squash
How to boil spaghetti squash
Finally, you can boil spaghetti squash. Bring a large pot of water to a low boil, and carefully sink a whole squash into it. You don’t need a rolling boil here; slow and steady wins the race. After about 30 minutes, test the squash with a fork. When it’s tender, slice it lengthwise, scoop the seeds, and separate into noodles with a fork.