Spaghetti squash, a winter squash, can be served in place of pasta or rice in dishes. Here’s how to prepare and serve spaghetti squash.
Like many families, most of our groceries came from the grocery store when I was a child in the 1980s and 1990s. Farmers markets weren’t a thing in my area, so we weren’t shopping from farmers on weekends like my kids and I do now. We did sometimes shop at farm stands in the summertime for fresh tomatoes and corn but that was a summer thing — not something that carried beyond those special shops. As a result, my view of many fruits and vegetables was limited to what was available on the shelves of the local Waldbaum’s.
Squash? It was yellow and long and dissolved into mush when cooked. Zucchini was similar. I had no idea that zucchini was a squash or that a whole world of other squashes existed.
Now in my late 30s, I am wowed by the breadth of produce that exists and relish trying new things.
I was introduced to spaghetti squash in college by a Jewish friend who invited me to Shabbos dinner. She’d prepared the squash earlier by roasting it and then served it with a fresh tomato sauce inside the spaghetti squash shells. As everyone around me dug in, I was skeptical but tried it.
And loved it.
When prepared well, spaghetti squash isn’t mushy. It has a texture similar to spaghetti and can be used as a replacement for pasta in dishes. I’ve also used it as a replacement for rice.
But you should know: Spaghetti squash doesn’t taste like spaghetti — it has a (mild, adaptable) flavor all it’s own. It’s squash, and I love it for what it is. Don’t expect this veggie to transform into a starchy pasta flavor, though. It won’t.
How to Roast Spaghetti Squash
Clean your spaghetti squash. Since this vegetable grows on the ground, it may have dirt on the outside. While you don’t eat the outside, it is better to cook it while clean. Rinse the spaghetti squash under cook water and use your hands — or a vegetable scrub brush — to wipe away dirt while under the running water.
Remove the stem. You can certainly cook the squash with the stem on (I have — many times). But when you leave the stem, it’s harder to cut the squash in half. And why make this process any harder than it needs to be?
Cut the spaghetti squash in half, lengthwise. I always start with a shallow cut around the outside before plunging the knife through the center and cutting the spaghetti squash into two long halves.
Scoop out the seeds and slimy strands. Grab a spoon and go to town! You want to remove the stringy, slimy bits and the seeds from the center. They come out easily by scraping the spoon against the flesh. Continue until all have been removed. Before you toss those seeds though … did you know that they are edible? It’s easy to make roasted squash seeds as a snack!
Brush the flesh with olive oil. It doesn’t take much. Lightly brush the spaghetti squash flesh with olive oil all through the cavity.
Season with salt and pepper. A like sprinkling of salt and pepper all over should do the trick.
Bake. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. I prefer to line my baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup. Lay the spaghetti squash cut-side down on the baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, or until tender. When you press a finger into the outside of the squash, it should feel soft. Remove from the oven and cool.
Other Ways to Cook Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti squash can be cooked in other ways too. You can cook it whole, which means no challenging cutting steps while it’s still raw and hard. Downside: You will still have to get those seeds out later and they may not be as usable then. Plus, the texture of the squash will be different. I really don’t recommend cooking it whole.
You can cook spaghetti squash in an Instant Pot — Nom Nom Paleo has a good tutorial on that method. If you love your slow cooker, you can cook spaghetti squash in the slow cooker with this tutorial from Everyday Maven. The Kitchn also has a great tutorial on how to cook spaghetti squash in the microwave.
How to Separate Spaghetti Squash into Strands
Alright! You’ve cooked your spaghetti squash. Now what? Grab a fork! Once the spaghetti squash is cooked, you can use a fork grated along the inside to separate it into strands. It’s so incredibly easy. Continue scraping until all the squash has been shredded.
Now it’s ready to use.
How to Serve Spaghetti Squash
Once forked into strands, spaghetti squash can be used in place of pasta. Top it with sauce, toss it with tomatoes, mix it with creamy alfredo, whatever.
It’s can also take the place of rice in some dishes.
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I recently made a fried rice-style spaghetti squash that was delightful. I simply traded the rice in the recipe and added cooked spaghetti squash instead. You could do this with my recipe for Bacon and Kale Fried Rice if you wanted.
For a pretty presentation, consider serving the spaghetti squash in its shell, as my friend in college did. It was lovely.
More Spaghetti Squash Recipes
Here are a few recipes to help you find even more ways to serve spaghetti squash
- Easy Chili Spaghetti Squash
- Baked Spaghetti Squash Bolognese
- Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Avocado
- Spaghetti Squash Pizza Crust on A Beautiful Mess
- Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Stuffed Spaghetti Squash on Recipe Runner
- Vegan Zoodles and Spaghetti Squash with Cherry Tomatoes on In Good Taste
How do you like to serve spaghetti squash?
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. Her latest cookbook is The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook, published by Rockridge Press, which focuses on quick, easy, from-scratch cooking for busy people. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.