What Is Spaghetti Squash?

A special squash with a stringy surprise

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

If you'd never seen or heard of spaghetti squash before, the name would probably cause a great deal of confusion to you; why is a squash named after a type of pasta? However, once you cook it and take a look inside, the answer becomes quite clear.

Spaghetti squash is a type of winter squash, meaning that it is usually harvested in the autumn months, when the fruit is at its most mature state, and eaten during the winter. A firm oval squash with a yellow-orange color, its basic appearance belies its unique interior. Rather than peeling and chopping it up, all you need to do with spaghetti squash is slice it in half, scoop out the seeds, season it, and roast it. After 30 minutes or so, and after it's been allowed to cool, you can begin to scoop out the insides. That's right, scoop.

The flesh of spaghetti squash, once cooked, takes on the look and consistency of, you guessed it, spaghetti — long, stringy strands of squash with a sweet taste and somewhat crunchy texture. It's a bit of a surprise if you were hoping to go for a conventional recipe; with most squash or gourds, it's simple enough to cook them in the oven, and serve them as part of a vegetable roast with onions, parsnips, and leeks. With spaghetti squash, however, if you're hoping to have nice firm chunks to cook with, you may have a bit of a mess on your hands.

Fear not, though, for there are many ways to incorporate spaghetti squash into your meal. One of the most common, though still rather clever, uses for spaghetti squash is as a substitute for actual spaghetti. The texture and shape allow it to work well in many of the same situations that pasta would, such as with a pesto sauce or with meatballs. If you happened to save the seeds, you can salt and roast them, similar to pumpkin seeds, for a delicious snack.

Delicious Recipes Featuring Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is an interesting alternative to your usual variety of garden vegetables. They grow similar to their cousins the zucchini and butternut squash, but are used in a totally different manner in the kitchen. Next time you feel like having some pasta for dinner, but want to change things up a bit, try making the dish with spaghetti squash instead. It provides a healthy and delicious twist to tried and true recipes.