Credit: rpavich on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
Spaghetti squash is so versatile, it's a shame to use it only as a replacement for noodles.
Since I'm known to experiment (in the kitchen too), I looked for other ways to enjoy this wonderful vegetable.
When I found the above creative commons flickr photo by rpavich, I couldn't wait to try a similar spaghetti squash breakfast (or brunch, in my case).
But first, let's look at how to pick a good spaghetti squash (Cucurbita pepo var. fastigata). Other names for spaghetti squash include: noodle squash, keeper squash, spaghetti marrow [marrow? blah], squaghetti [too fancy and too hard to say], or vegetable spaghetti [reminds me of spinach pasta].
Credit: Cindy Funk on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
How to Pick a Good Spaghetti Squash
Credit: Alex "Skud" Bayley on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 GenericHere's what to keep in mind:
1) Spaghetti squash starts out green, so look for any shade of yellow - but definitely not greenish ones. Personally, I prefer the deeper yellow ones (I have no proof, but I'm hoping they contain more nutrients).
2) Don't worry about the light brown spots but be sure there are no soft spots or places where the skin is broken.
3) They are rather hard to slice into, so I recommend softening them up (whole) in the microwave for about 1 - 2 minutes first. Note: One of the recipes in this article does not require you to slice it in half before cooking.
A quick 37 second reminder
How to Pick a Good One:
Safest way to cut it
Even after the microwave, I use this method:
My Spaghetti Squash Brunch
Credit: RoseWrites on InfoBarrel / All rights reserved
My first recipe was inspired by rpavich's photo who was kind enough to provide the original recipe by Bob & Carlene Deutscher titled Breakfast Spaghetti Squash.
Instead of making just one brunch bowl, I made four but you could always halve this recipe for one squash (and make two brunch bowls). I try to maximize my oven time (plus I have more mouths to feed on the weekend).
Rose's Spaghetti Squash Brunch
Makes: 4 | Prep: 15 mins | Total: 70 mins
I swapped out the mushrooms for peppers and added some crumbled bacon to mine. What I love most about this brunch is the easy cleanup afterwards. There are no bowls to scrub clean (egg can be tough to clean off dishes). I just compost the empty squash bowls.
One more thing: the original recipe stated the oven temperature as 400 F (205 C) but I found that too high (the tops browned too fast). So I use 375 F (190 C) and a longer cook time. Of course, I could have a hotter oven than most.
2 whole spaghetti squashes (about 4 lbs. each)
2/3 - 3/4 cup tomato sauce
1 cup chopped spinach (or other leafy green)
1 cup sliced red and/or green peppers
1/3 cup diced red onion
Optional meat: 4 slices thick cooked ham (cubed) or 6 - 8 slices of cooked strip bacon (crumbled)
1/2 - 3/4 cup shredded cheddar (or other hard cheese)
8 eggs - if using 2 for each "bowl"
Garnish: 4 chopped green onions
Wash squashes and spinach (or other leafy green) and set aside to dry. In a microwave-safe dish, nuke each spaghetti squash (whole) for about 1 - 2 minutes to make slicing easier.
Slice squashes in half and scoop out the seeds and stringy goop (and compost it).
NB: Carefully slice a flat piece off the bottom of each "bowl" so it will sit upright and be level while baking.
Ensure oven racks are adjusted so the "bowls" will be centered in oven and preheat to 375 F (190 C). Prepare the rest of your ingredients. Chop and slice veggies first, then meat, and shred cheese last. TIP: Putting hard cheese in the freezer for 15 - 20 minutes makes it easier to grate.
Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or use two big casserole dishes and set each half squash bowl in a level, upright position.
Sprinkle each with salt and pepper and coat the inside of bowls with 2 - 3 tbsp. of tomato sauce. Then add equal amounts of spinach (or other leafy green), cooked meat (if desired), peppers, and red onion to each bowl. Top with shredded cheese (but remember to leave room for 2 eggs later on).
Bake for 20 minutes, then carefully remove pans from oven and break 2 eggs into each spaghetti squash bowl. TIP: Break 2 eggs into small prep bowls first and pour into spaghetti squash bowls to prevent egg shells from getting into your food.
Carefully place spaghetti squash bowls back in oven and cook for another 15 - 25 minutes. TIP: After 15 mins, if it looks done, cover with a tented piece of foil, turn off oven but allow it to sit in the oven for another 5 minutes. (I find the peppers need a little extra time to soften).
Remove from oven, top with green onions, salt and pepper to taste.
I scoop it onto a plate for my daughter
and just mix that egg right in with the other stuff
Credit: Rusty Clark on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
Cook it in a crock pot for 8 or 9 hours
Credit: Rusty Clark on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
When I only need to cook one spaghetti squash and I'd rather not heat up the kitchen by turning on the oven, I use my crock pot. I learned about this method in a recipe I found on The Skinny Fork titled Crock Pot Spaghetti Squash Thai 'Noodle' Bowl.
Key points to remember:
1) After washing your spaghetti squash, poke it all over with a fork or paring knife to let the steam out while it cooks.
2) Don't worry about the skin colour turning from yellow to pale beige, it doesn't affect the flavour of the flesh cooking inside.
Crock Pot Spaghetti Squash Salad
Serves: 2 - 3 | Prep: 10 mins | Total: 9 hours
This next recipe was adapted from one by Canadian chef Michael Smith titled Spaghetti Squash Salad. I cooked one squash in my crock pot (in the morning) and then whipped up the rest of the ingredients when I got home from work.
I prefer cilantro over parsley (but use whatever you like) and I used my semi-world famous homemade sun dried tomatoes.
1 whole spaghetti squash (about 4 lbs.)
1 cup pesto
1 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (or parsley)
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Wash the outside of your spaghetti squash, pierce it with a fork or paring knife all over (about 20 times) and place into crock pot. Add 2 cups of water, close lid, and cook on low for 8 - 9 hours.
When time is up, remove squash and allow it to cool for 25 - 30 mins.
In the meantime, wash and chop cilantro (or parsley) and place in a large bowl. Add pesto, sun dried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and combine thoroughly.
Once spaghetti squash is cool enough: cut in half, scoop out seeds and goop, then use a fork to comb out the stringy flesh directly into the large bowl (with the other combined ingredients). Toss thoroughly to coat the spaghetti squash and enjoy.
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There is a more expensive slow cooker with a programmable feature, but I don't like the idea of food sitting at room temperature until a "set" time. I just don't feel it's as hygienic as those that begin cooking food (especially meat) right away. The oval shape can easily accommodate a spaghetti squash or roast. What's more, both the stoneware pot and lid are dishwasher-safe. Also available in a gorgeous red colour.
Credit: kirybabe on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
Yummy Roasted Spaghetti Squash
Serves: 2 - 4 | Prep: 7 mins | Total: 1 hour
Credit: dollen on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 GenericInstead of coating the spaghetti squash with tomato sauce, I find just roasting it with good quality olive oil and some choice spices is fabulous. A little bit of grated Parmesan cheese on top is nice too.
1 or 2 spaghetti squashes
2 - 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
kosher or sea salt
freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs of your choice (such as basil, thyme, chives, dill, cilantro, oregano, and/or rosemary)
Optional: minced garlic or garlic powder
Optional: grated Parmesan
Ensure oven racks are positioned so squash will bake in the center of your oven and preheat to 375 F (190 C).
Wash your squash(es) and heat each in the microwave for 1 - 2 minutes to soften up the skin for slicing. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or aluminum foil).
Carefully halve each squash and scoop out seeds and goop. Position them skin side down on prepared pan. Brush fleshy part (not skin) with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 45 - 55 minutes. TIP: If they are looking dried out halfway through the bake time, it's okay to brush them with more olive oil.
Wash fresh herbs and chop finely. If adding garlic, I recommend sprinkling it on halves when they first come out of the oven (burnt garlic tastes blah).
Allow spaghetti squash halves to cool about 4 - 5 minutes, then sprinkle with freshly chopped herbs. Top with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.
Credit: dollen on flickr / Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic