Monday, September 20, 2010

An Alternative to the Carbs and Gluten of Pasta - Spaghetti Squash!

I’m a squash lover. In fact, when I was a baby, the doctor told my mother to stop feeding it to me because I was turning orange. : ) To me, there is nothing like oven roasted butternut or acorn squash–it’s great plain or with a little maple syrup–and wonderful stuffed or even in soups. Another squash that I revisited this year that has become one of my new favorites is spaghetti squash.

It’s flesh is not orange like some of the other winter squashes, however it has another interesting property that makes it fun and satisfying to eat. At first glance, when cut open, a spaghetti squash appears like any other squash with its clump of seeds in the center surrounded by smooth, solid flesh. However, when cooked, the reason for its name becomes instantly apparent. The meat can be pulled away from the shell in thin, spaghetti-like strands that are a little bit crunchy and very juicy. This is great news if you’re a pasta lover and want a lower carb, gluten-free alternative to spaghetti. A 1 cup serving has only 42 calories versus almost 200 for whole-wheat pasta and is a good source of fiber, vitamin C and manganese. You can check out the nutritional profile here.

Spaghetti squash is versatile and can be prepared in a number of ways. It can be boiled, steamed, baked or roasted. My favorite way to cook it is to cut it in half lengthwise, rub the insides with olive or grapeseed oil, then place them cut side down onto a baking sheet and roast it in a 350° oven for 30-40 minutes, or until a fork can be easily inserted into the skin.

Once it’s ready, let it cool a little bit, scoop out the seeds, then with a fork, gently pull the stringy flesh away from the shell. This would make a great project for kids because they’re often fascinated by the result after cooking. I have to admit, I am too!

Here are three of the infinite number of ways that this squash can be seasoned:

1. Add olive oil, garlic, sea salt and pepper and gently toss. Chopped fresh herbs would be perfect here as well.

2. Probably my favorite way is to add roasted tomatoes fresh basil and garlic and a sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan cheese. A friend and school mate of mine had a great blog on roasting tomatoes for a sauce that you can see here. This is, without a doubt, my favorite way to make spaghetti sauce and this one is perfect for the fresh and light texture of this squash.

3. The last time I prepared it, halfway through the roasting, I added a few halved apples to the pan and let them bake. Then I added the cooked apple, a few drops of olive oil, a little sea salt, and a dash of cinnamon. This had a mildly sweet flavor that is a nice change from the savory versions I usually prepare.


  1. Sounds delicious! And feels like such the perfect food to eat as fall begins to creep in and the last of the summer tomatoes begin to fade. I'll try it!

  2. This looks fabulous! You've inspired me to try it! :)