Fall may as well be called squash season, as far as we’re concerned. Most popular types of squash, such as butternut squash, acorn squash and delicata squash, can be used in recipes interchangeably with just slight differences in flavor and texture. But there’s one type of squash that is particularly unique: spaghetti squash.
Named for the strands that emerge when properly cooked, spaghetti squash is a mildly sweet squash that’s great as a lower-carb swap for pasta or as an easy weeknight side dish. Cooking this vegetable can be intimidating. But don’t worry! We have two different ways you can cook spaghetti squash and a technique to help you carefully cut through its hard shell, which can be a particular challenge. All you need are some basic cooking methods.
How to cut spaghetti squash
The shell of a spaghetti squash can be incredibly tough, but it’s possible to cut through it with the aid of some very sharp knives. Make sure your cutting board is steady, and use the sharp knife to cut off the very top of your squash — by the stem — and the very bottom of your squash. Then, stand your squash upright and carefully use the knife to cut the squash in half.
If that sounds too intimidating, the microwave can help you cut your spaghetti squash with ease.
First, take a fork and poke holes into the squash as you would when baking a potato. This step allows steam to escape. Then, place the squash in the microwave for three to five minutes. The outer shell should soften, making it easier for you to cut.
How to cook spaghetti squash in the microwave
Cooking spaghetti squash in the microwave is quite simple. Cut the squash in half using one of the above methods and scoop out the seeds with a large spoon. Place one-half of the squash in a microwave-safe dish with the cut side facing down. Add one inch of water to the dish and microwave for 10 minutes, until the squash pierces easily with the tip of a knife. This will result in that moist, noodly, spaghetti-squash texture that you love in a fraction of the time.
How to cook spaghetti squash in the oven
To cook spaghetti squash in the oven, cut the squash into halves, scoop out the seeds and place the cut side down on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. To keep the squash tender and moist, poke a few holes in the flesh. Drizzle some olive oil onto the squash and add salt, pepper and garlic powder. Place the squash flesh side down on the sheet, and bake it in the oven at 400F for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of your squash. Use a fork to scoop out the spaghetti-like flesh and top it with a bolognese sauce for a must-have fall foodie experience.
Recipe courtesy of JeanMarie Brownson
1 spaghetti squash, about 3 pounds, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
3/4 cups walnut pieces
3 tablespoons walnut oil or extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
3 tablespoons chopped chives (or green onion tops)
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary or 1/4 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Finely grated zest from 1 lemon
Coarse (kosher salt), freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly shredded parmesan or asiago cheese
Step 1: Put one half of a spaghetti squash, cut side down, in a microwave-safe casserole dish. Add 1 inch of water to the dish. Cover with lid or microwave-safe plastic wrap vented at one corner. Microwave on high (100% power) until squash pierces easily with the tip of a knife, about 10 minutes. Allow squash to cool, then repeat to cook the other squash half.
Step 2: Meanwhile, for walnut picada, toast ¾ cup walnut pieces in a small nonstick skillet ust until fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Do not walk away or nuts might burn. Cool on a cutting board, then chop finely.
Step 3: Mix chopped walnuts, 3 tablespoons walnut oil, 3 tablespoons chopped parsley, 3 tablespoons chopped chives, 1/2 teaspoon minced rosemary, ½ teaspoon pepper flakes and lemon zest in a small bowl. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
Step 4: Use the tines of a large fork to pull the cooked squash from the skin in long shreds and place them in a serving bowl. Toss with 1 clove crushed garlic and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm sprinkled with the walnut picada. Offer the shredded cheese at the table.