Spaghetti Squash — a large winter squash that is usually pale yellow in colour — earns its name from the noodle-like quality of its flesh once cooked. Because of its unique texture and subtle flavour, spaghetti squash has become a favourite of many health-conscious cooks who treat it as an alternative to traditional pasta. There are several ways to cook and enjoy spaghetti squash — the trick is to get the flesh to the right consistency so it can be shredded into perfect al dente “noodles.”
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Split the squash in half and remove the seeds with a metal spoon. Brush the insides of each half with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on a baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes to one hour or until the outside of the squash can be easily pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven and let the squash cool for 15 minutes. Turn each half of the squash over and scrape the flesh out with a fork to create “noodles.”
Wash the outside of the squash and place it whole in a large pot of boiling water and keep at a medium boil for 20-30 minutes (cooking time will vary depending on the size of the squash). Remove from water when the outside is easily pierced with a fork. Split in half when the outside of the squash is cool enough to handle and let cool for another 10-15 minutes. Scrape out the flesh with a fork.
The microwave method is similar to baking in the oven, but much quicker. Split the squash in half, remove seeds, and brush the insides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the squash cut side down in a microwave-safe baking dish and add one inch of water. Cook on high for about 12 minutes, until the outside of the squash is easily pierced with a fork (check regularly after the 10 minute mark so you don’t overcook the squash). Let cool for 15 minutes and scrape out the flesh with a fork.
Spaghetti squash works well with many of the same sauces and preparations that you would use with regular spaghetti, though keep in mind that the flesh is more delicate and closer to the consistency of angle hair pasta, meaning it will not be able to hold hardy meat sauces. Serve it with herbed butter or oil-based sauces, parmesan cheese, a traditional marinara or carbonara sauce, or underneath meatballs