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How to Cook Spaghetti Squash Correctly

By Edited Apr 26, 2016 1 4

How To Cook Spaghetti Squash

Before you learn how to cook spaghetti squash, you first need to know more about this unusual gourd.  It’s important to know its alternative names, nutritional information, as well as the many ways to prepare this delicious vegetable.

Spaghetti Squash Background

The spaghetti squash, as it is known in the United States, is also called noodle squash, gold string melon, vegetable spaghetti, spaghetti marrow, in England, and even, the catchy, squaghetti.  The more common references get their name from the visual look of the finished product.  Once a spaghetti squash is prepared the result looks like a nest of noodles sitting on your plate.  In fact, it is often substituted as pasta in some dishes because of the better nutritional value than the flour based counterpart.

This variety of squash is a host to many important nutrients and has a low caloric intake.  Some of them include folic acid, potassium, vitamin A, and beta carotene.  One serving, one cup is only 42 calories.  That is of course before we season it up with other stuff. But the cooked result is around 42 calories.

Easy Cooking Methods Explained

Now that we have all of that information out of the way let’s talk about actually how to cook spaghetti squash.  You are going to be surprised at how easy it is to prepare this dish.  In the most basic methods you can bake, boil, steam and even microwave this squash to get it in a state where the internal fleshy part of the food can be removed easily.

When you purchase one of these melons they typically are found in a few different colors.  Usually, these winter squashes are anywhere from an ivory/tan color to a yellow or orange tint.  Once you get it home you are ready to prepare it for cooking.

Decide on the method of cooking above.  Split the squash in half from stem to root with a clever or French knife.  Leaving it in two pieces affords longer strands at the end, but you can quarter it or even smaller.  The advantage to this is that the squash will cook faster but here the strands will be shorter.  You can even cook the squash whole but it will take longer.

Spliting the Squash

 Then remove the seeds with a spoon scraping just into the flesh ensuring a clean, seed free surface.  Incidentally, the seeds can be washed, buttered and roasted just like pumpkin seeds for a great snack.

Unless you are boiling or steaming the squash, I like to butter the open face if I am going to bake or microwave cook it.  Then place it buttered face down in your cooking dish. If baking, place in a 375 degree oven for about 30-45 minutes until it feels soft from the hull.  Or microwave about 8 minutes on high heat setting.  You may have to adjust according to your particular model of microwave.

Boiling in a pot will take around 20 to 30 minutes.  I like to season the water that I am boiling the squash in with some salt, nutmeg, and sometimes allspice. The steaming method is very similar but will take about 45 minutes to an hour.

Post Cooking Preparation

When the squash is done cooking remove it from the pot or oven and let cool until it can be handled without burning yourself.  The rind of the melon conducts and holds the majority of the heat so it is best to wear an oven mitt or let the squash rest in your hand with a kitchen towel in between.

Now all you’ll need is a container for the spaghetti squash and a fork.  Using the fork, scrape from the top of stem to the bottom yielding long strands of spaghetti.  Let the threads fall into the container and continue scraping until reaching the inside of the rind. 

Scraping the Spaghetti Squash

At this point, you have several options for using the spaghetti squash.  You could use it as you would any pasta noodle in a similar dish.  Or it can be served as a standalone vegetable with some added seasonings.

There are many specific recipes available online for a variety of uses. Here is a suggestion for each option to try. 

Using as a pasta replacement:

This is a light variation of a Margharita style of a dish using 1 cup of prepared spaghetti squash.  Toss the squash with olive oil, halved cherry tomatoes, and a tablespoon of chiffonade cut of fresh basil.  Top the dish off with grated pecorino parmesan cheese.

As a standalone vegetable side:

Toss the shredded spaghetti squash in butter, nutmeg, allspice, salt and pepper.  This provides a light sweet and savory side dish that is still lower in calories and carbohydrates than most accompaniments. 

I know I said one suggestion for each but here is another one of my favorites.  Make your own teriyaki sauce by combining ¼ cup Italian dressing, ¼ cup honey, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, pinch of crushed red pepper flake, and a splash of lemon juice.  Whisk all these ingredients together and set aside.

Now heat up a sauté pan with butter and toss 1 cup of spaghetti squash and 1 ounce of the teriyaki sauce until hot.  Then serve as a side to a grilled meat or fish dish of your choice. 

There you have it, how to cook spaghetti squash and a couple of recipes to finish off the process.  Enjoy preparing this unusual vegetable with a sweet or savory flare.

Spliting the Squash

Scraping the Spaghetti Squash

Standalone Side Dish

Margharita Spag Squash



Jun 14, 2011 10:11am
Very good instruction on cooking spaghetti squash.
Jun 20, 2011 10:23pm
Thanks Lynsuz, I realize that it is not the most common vegetable to prepare and would need some explanation.
Jul 8, 2011 5:13am
I saw this before on food shows and have been curious to know more. Your article is well-written and explains all I need to know about spaghetti squash. The teriyaki recipe sounds like a good side dish and I am anxious to try it.
Jul 10, 2011 2:26pm
Thanks Sullysee, that teriyaki sauce recipe was originally used to glaze a grilled fillet of salmon but one day I tried it in the spaghetti squash and it was awesome.
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