Check Out These Three Ways to Cook Spaghetti Squash
Want to enjoy your favorite pasta dishes, without worrying about all the refined carbs and extra calories? Easy solution: Learn how to cook spaghetti squash.
“Spaghetti squash is a gluten-free, whole-food alternative to regular pasta,” says Kristian Morey, RD, LDN, a registered dietitian with Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. It’s lower in calories than pasta, and packed with nutrients including fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and manganese.
How to Prepare Spaghetti Squash Before Cooking
- Slice the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, using a sharp chef’s knife.
- Scoop out the seeds from the center of the spaghetti squash using a metal tablespoon or serving spoon. (You can discard the seeds, or set them aside to roast later for a snack.)
- Drizzle the squash halves with a little bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Get creative with spices, if you’d like: Add cinnamon, nutmeg or a bit of brown sugar if you feel like something sweet; or add savory flavor with paprika, cayenne pepper, or oregano.
How To Cook Spaghetti Squash In The Oven
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Slice, scoop, and season the squash using the instructions above.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and place the squash face down.
- Bake at 375°F for 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the squash. You’ll know it’s done when the inside of the squash is tender.
- Use a fork to separate out the “spaghetti.” Pull the fork from the rim of the squash into the center.
How To Cook Spaghetti Squash In The Microwave
Short on time? “I prefer to cook spaghetti squash in the microwave,” Morey says. “It’s easier to watch and add time or stop cooking.”
- Slice, scoop, and season the squash using the instructions above. (When cooking in the microwave, Morey says, “I slice spaghetti squash horizontally, as it’s easier than vertically and has produced the same results, in my experience.”)
- Add two tablespoons of water to a microwave-safe plate, and place the squash face down on the plate. (The steam will help the squash to cook.)
- Microwave for about 15 minutes, depending on the size of the squash.
- Use a fork to scoop out the “spaghetti,” and enjoy.
How To Cook Spaghetti Squash Whole
Cutting a raw spaghetti squash can be tricky, so if you prefer, you can cook spaghetti squash whole — then cut, scoop, and season once it’s cooked.
- Using a fork or knife, prick the squash all over.
- IN THE OVEN: Place the whole spaghetti squash on a baking sheet and cook in the oven at 375°F for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, depending on its size. Flip it halfway through. IN THE MICROWAVE: Cook on high for 10 to 15 minutes, checking for doneness every 5 minutes. (The squash should be soft enough to pierce easily with a fork. If it’s not, rotate and cook for another 5 minutes.)
- Let it cool for a few minutes before cutting.
- Slice the spaghetti squash in half with a sharp knife, then scoop out the seeds and use a fork to separate the “spaghetti.”
How to Serve Spaghetti Squash
Substitute spaghetti squash in any recipe where you’d normally use regular pasta — you’ll be surprised how versatile this squash variety is.
Spaghetti squash can be used to create a healthier version of just about any type of oven-based pasta or casserole recipe, says Megan Wong, RD, a registered dietitian in Vancouver. (Feeling adventurous? Try a spaghetti squash shepherd’s pie.)
And Diana Gariglio-Clelland, RD, a registered dietitian in Washington, likes to make a traditional family recipe that combines spaghetti squash “noodles” with cooked turkey sausage, stewed tomatoes, black beans, spices (like rosemary, thyme, and sage), salt to taste, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. “The turkey sausage and beans help to make the meal filling, while the tomatoes and spices help complement the spaghetti squash’s nutty flavor,” she says.
To make spaghetti squash more filling, Morey says:
- Make sure you have high quality source of protein such as tofu, veggie crumbles, or lean ground beef or turkey.
- Include some healthy fats to give it more richness. Drizzle with olive oil, or garnish with nuts or seeds for a little bit of crunch.
- Fill half your plate with another vegetable side — like broccoli or green beans — for an extra fiber boost.
Photography by Anguel Dimov, AB Creative