Spaghetti Squash: An Excellent Pasta Substitute

Reader Contribution by Claire E.
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To enable us to eat seasonally and locally, my family has a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) share, but you don’t have to have one to eat seasonally. So long as you know when foods are ripe, you can even buy them from the supermarket—and one food that is in season right now is the nutritious and surprisingly tasty spaghetti squash.

I have never been a squash person, but when we got two spaghetti squash in our CSA this week, I decided to try to see if the rumors that spaghetti squash made a good spaghetti substitute were really true. Accordingly I washed the squash, which were fat and pale yellow, punctured them all over with a wooden skewer to prevent them from exploding during cooking, and set them in the oven to bake.

Forty-five minutes later I slid the squash out of the oven again and tested them with the same skewer. The smaller squash did not resist; the skewer slid smoothly through its cavity. The larger squash was firmer. I replaced the larger in the oven and started on the smaller. It was time for the next step in the recipe.

This involved splitting the squash in half lengthwise, scooping out the seeds at the center, and using the tines of a fork to slash the flesh into ribbons. (The process is not as violent as it sounds.)

When I sliced the squash open, it released a gout of bland-smelling steam that clouded my glasses. Once I could see again, I spooned out the seeds and began on the squash meat, which was smooth, dense and butter-yellow. At first I tried to run the fork around the cavity, but when this only—well—squashed the squash, I started dragging the fork down along the inside of the squash skin and into the center of the cavity, which worked far better. As soon as the other squash came out of the oven I gave it the same treatment.

I scraped the strands of spaghetti out of the squash, composted the inedible parts, and got to work on the tasting phase.

I planned to have spaghetti squash with pesto later, but first I wanted to try it with just salt and pepper, to focus on the flavor. This worked less well than I had expected, as I over-peppered rather a lot, but I could still taste the squash, and given its smell—which was warm and slightly unpleasant—it was quite shockingly tasty: mild and savory, edged with sweetness.

The next day for lunch I had my spaghetti squash with pesto. With a sprinkle of salt on top it was delicious, the pesto and squash in a delicate balance. It was not hugely filling, but with tomato sauce and meatballs it could very well have been.

Altogether, I’ve found spaghetti squash to be an excellent pasta alternative for this time of year. If you’re interested in eating seasonally, and you want a low-carb meal option, try the spaghetti squash. It’s great.

For the recipe I used to cook my spaghetti squash, click here; for a nutritional profile of spaghetti squash, click here (compare that to spaghetti’s nutrition); and if you’d like a more specific recipe — from Mother Earth News, no less! — click here.

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