Behold, the spaghetti squash, that thick-skinned, oblong-ish gourd overflowing bins at your supermarket these days. Unlike it’s more popular squash relatives, spaghetti squash doesn’t have a smooth, creamy texture. Instead, the cooked flesh is stringy like long pasta, hence the name. It’s delicious, packed with fiber and low in calories — but cooking it into something extraordinary often requires creativity.
HOW TO PREP IT
Start by washing the outside of the squash. Then, using a large, heavy knife, cut down and through the center of the squash lengthwise. Once the squash splits in half, the hard work is done. From here, use a spoon to scoop out and discard the seeds. Rub the exposed flesh with cooking oil and place it cut-side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil — it’s not necessary, but it makes clean-up a snap.
HOW TO COOK IT
Roast the squash in a 350°F oven until it’s tender and the flesh easily pulls away from the outer skin when scraped with a fork. Total cooking time depends on your oven and the size of your squash, but you should plan on at least 45 minutes. Turn it over so the cut side is up the last 10 minutes. To save time, you can also pierce the squash all over and microwave it for about 10 minutes, flipping it halfway through.
Let the squash cool until it can easily be handled, about 20 minutes. Use a fork and spoon combo to scrape all the flesh into a bowl and discard the hard skin.
Your spaghetti squash is now ready to use in any way you can imagine. Here are a few of my go-to favorites:
Brown cubes of pancetta or chunks of firm tofu and then immediately add scraped squash in place of traditional pasta along with a whole egg and a handful of freshly grated Parmesan. Stir quickly to combine, letting the heat cook the egg so it makes a creamy sauce. Top with chopped parsley and black pepper.
Once the squash is roasted tender, mix it with an egg and kosher salt. Scoop heaping spoonfuls (about the size of golf balls) and set them into a hot oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Use a spatula to flatten them slightly and cook until brown on both sides, turning only once halfway through. Sprinkle with a bit more salt and serve your squash-browns on the side of crisp bacon and eggs cooked any way you like.
Chop your cooked squash until it’s the size of rice. Cook chopped onions and green chillies in a frying pan until softened, then add in the squash, cooking until hot. Put squash into serving bowls and top with browned ground meat or beans, grated cheese, salsa, avocado slices, chopped green onions and fresh cilantro. Serve with more salsa on the side.
Heat 1/2 cup of low-fat milk with kosher salt and freshly grated nutmeg. Fill a casserole dish with your roasted, scraped squash. Pour the milk over the top, pressing down slightly so it flows into all the bare spaces. Sprinkle the top with grated cheese (jack is good but nutty fontina is better). Bake uncovered until bubbling and slightly browned on top, 20–30 minutes at 350°F. Serve with grilled meats or steamed vegetables.
Toss roasted and scraped squash with a drizzle of melted butter or coconut oil and sprinkle with either grated Parmesan or very finely chopped pecans, a large pinch of kosher salt and a few cracks of ground black pepper. Adjust all the ingredients as needed to your liking.