This one’s quick.
I’m not here to convince you that spaghetti squash is “just like” pasta. It’s not. Not even remotely.
But it should be appreciated as a tasty, filling and nutritious vegetable in its own right that, when cooked and its strands separated, can give you the fork-twirling illusion of pasta. In other words, sometimes good enough is enough. And spaghetti squash is good enough to serve as a low-carb and gluten-free cradle for the real stars of the dish: your favorite sauce and toppings. We don’t need to make it into something it’s not, just simply enjoy it for what it is.
Anyway. I’d been trying to include more of it in my diet, but my initial cooking attempts fell flat. Either the squash turned out unevenly cooked, too mushy or with squat broken strands that looked nothing like the ones in all the food photos.
Then, thanks to Google and other online pioneers, I learned I had been cooking it all wrong. To get long, evenly cooked strands, I needed to cut it into individual rings and not in half lengthwise because the strands run around the circumference of the squash, not the length.
Brilliant. Now things are back on track, as you can see from the photos.
Sidebar: You know how sometimes, despite your best efforts, a pool of liquid settles beneath your final spaghetti squash entree? Some folks suggest leeching away excess liquid from the squash by liberally salting it before cooking, letting it sit for a half hour or so, and then wiping away both the salt and liquid droplets that rise to the surface. They then proceed to cook as usual. I haven’t tested this method yet, but it sounds like it will work since that’s the same salting technique used to leech away bitterness from eggplant prior to cooking.
My cooking method: I usually just brush a little extra-virgin olive oil on top of my rings, dust with salt and pepper and then bake them on an oiled and foil-lined baking sheet for an estimated 40 minutes at 400 degrees.
You may have to fudge the time a little bit, and just keep eyeballing it to make sure it’s not getting too brown and crisped on top for your tastes. I tend to overcook mine because I like it well done rather than too crunchy to the bite, and have even put mine back in the oven after 40 minutes to cook a little while longer. If you like yours more al dente, check at the 30-minute mark and test how easily the strands pull away from the edges. Sample a strand to make sure the bite is to your liking.
Give this method a try, I’m sure you’ll notice the difference. As for cutting and slicing the raw spaghetti squash itself, nothing has changed. It’s still a colossal pain. (Just use your largest chef’s knife, put your back into it and watch those fingers.)
Meal Prep Tip: Portion out the spaghetti squash in individual foil “packets” and store them in the fridge for later use. When ready for a single serving, just pop a foil packet in the oven to reheat (or saute in a pan over medium heat), and serve with your favorite sauce or topping. I like to pour on a little leftover Shakshuka, or puttanesca sauce made with olives and capers.
You know what else is good on top? Mussels in garlic butter sauce. Make your own, or you can grab a great prepackaged deal at any local ALDI grocery store for $2.49.