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I’ll never forget my introduction to spaghetti squash, years ago. I was visiting my Aunt Ethel and her kitchen was full of them. Her neighbors had decided to grow them for the first time and their harvest had been far more bountiful than they had anticipated. They raved about the wonders of the vegetable, but Ethel was hesitant to break into them. I understood her trepidation as I had long been leery of squash in general. Eventually, our curiosity overcame our reservations and we tried spaghetti squash together for the first time, delighting in the weirdness of noodles emerging so perfectly from within the solid gourd. Every time I cook and eat spaghetti squash, I remember my quiet yet adventurous Aunt Ethel.
Since that first experience with spaghetti squash, I’ve learned to enjoy it prepared in several different ways. It’s a fantastic low-carb alternative to traditional pasta and it has a subtle, sweet flavor to be appreciated on its own.
Spaghetti squash is at its best during the Fall months. Choose a plump one with shiny, pale yellow skin. It should feel heavy (average weight is about four pounds) and be free of bumps, bruises, soft spots, or cracks. It’s best to buy it the day you’re going to prepare it, but it will keep for up to five days in the refrigerator. Don’t wash it until you’re ready to cook it.
One method of preparing the squash is to poke it all over with a skewer and place in a shallow baking dish in a 375 degree oven for about an hour. Let it cool for a bit, then cut it in half and remove the “guts” and seeds before scraping the interior with a fork to release all of the noodley goodness. Conversely, you can slice it in half before baking, remove the “guts” and seeds, and place inside-up in a baking dish at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes before scraping out the noodles. If you slice before baking, try lining the interior with sliced garlic, salt, and pepper and drizzling with olive oil. The noodles will be delectable. You can also serve them with any traditional spaghetti toppings. Tonight I made a lazy sauce with a can of diced tomatoes, some diced onion and garlic, Italian seasoning, a can of sliced black olives, and some feta cheese. Mixed with the spaghetti squash, it was a hearty pasta-esque dinner.
You can even make spaghetti squash into a sweet treat! It’s a versatile vegetable that’s easy to work with and difficult to get wrong. What is your favorite spaghetti squash recipe?