I love introducing people to spaghetti squash for the first time. It's such a unique vegetable in how you prepare and eat it, plus it's quite tasty and good for you. Kids especially get a kick out of scraping the "spaghetti" from the rind.
To prepare spaghetti squash, cut it in half, lengthwise. Use a very long sharp knife, preferably with a serrated edge to cut through the watermelon-hard rind. Be extremely careful when cutting because the oblong shape of this vegetable makes it hard to hold. Try to keep both halves the same size in order to ensure even cooking.
Now that you've bisected the squash, get a spoon and scoop out all the junk from the center. It looks sort of like the inside of a pumpkin in there, and you don't want to eat it. The idea is to get the inside clean, and you may want to rinse it out with tap water to wash away the scraps. Now you are ready to get creative with this crazy vegetable.
There are two main ways to cook a spaghetti squash—each one giving a somewhat different taste and texture.
Method 1: Microwave
To cook a spaghetti squash in a microwave, you will probably have to do them one half at a time unless it's a small squash. All you have to do is place the squash open side down on a microwave-safe plate with a spoonful of water underneath to help keep it steamed. Cooking time will vary depending on the size of your squash and the strength of your microwave, but generally it takes about 7 or 8 minutes per half. Since the squash is cooked upside down, don't put salt and pepper on it or it will just slide off – you can add it later.
Method 2: Oven
Unless you are pressed for time, I recommend cooking the squash in an oven instead of a microwave. It takes longer, but I think the texture is nicer when you cook with an oven, plus you can add seasonings before you cook. I suggest a little salt and pepper to get things started. You can add a layer of butter, too if you want something more decadent. At 350 degrees, it takes about 30 minutes to cook both halves of the squash.
When the squash has finished cooking, let it sit for several minutes because it'll be very hot. You may want to wear an oven mitt on one hand to hold the squash while you scoop it out. You can use a fork or spoon, or both, to get all the spaghetti strands from inside of the rind. If they seem too difficult to remove, cook it a little longer.
Put all the scraped innards of the spaghetti squash into a bowl so that you can add seasoning like salt and pepper and a little butter. I like to add shredded cheese (cheddar and Parmesan) to mine in order to make it work like a healthier alternative to pasta. You can also use the scraped squash to make any variety of casseroles just as if you were using pasta, so experiment with your personal tastes.
The next time you are thinking of cooking up a pasta try this Double Spaghetti Squash
recipe. You'll be surprised how well spaghetti squash goes with just about anything!
Nosh with Squash
This Winter Squash Recipe Collection
might have some ideas to warm you up!
And here's another spaghetti squash recipe for non-vegetarians: