My Kitchen Staples: Spaghetti Squash

Yeah, so I am one of those people with a food allergy.  My body has some sort of immune response to gluten.  Not celiac, but still annoying.  When I used to go out for Italian food, I always thought it was the garlic and onions that gave me indigestion and a stomachache.  I’ve traveled to Italy several times for vacation and work, and while there, I blamed any tummy troubles on the fact that I ate gelato, nutella, panini, prosciutto, cheese, and pretty much anything else I could get my hands on all day, then ended the night with a lot of red wine and a huge meal (usually pasta) eaten at 9pm.  I guess it was the pasta.

While I don’t keep a complete gluten-free diet (I was told I didn’t need to do that), I do try to keep my wheat consumption down.  Except when I am craving pancakes.  Or a Boli from Stuff Yer Face.  If you don’t know what I am talking about, Adam Richman from Man v. Food will help you understand why I have to give in sometimes.

So enter the Spaghetti Squash.

Cut open spaghetti squash

While not an exact replacement for pasta, it does give a similar look and feel, and provides a great vehicle for all of the yummy sauces I like to make.  Those recipes will follow.  Right now, it’s just the basics.

My friend, The Half-Baked Housewife, likes to use the microwave method.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I am sure it works great.  I have always cooked it in the oven.  It takes longer, but you don’t have to pay attention to it for at least the first half hour, and I like the little bit of caramelization it gives.  A lot of times I will get the squash cooked while The Bug is napping, and throw it in the fridge.  Then at dinner time, I just reheat it in the sauce, if that is the type of recipe I am doing, or throw it in a ceramic baking dish, covered, and warm it in the oven or microwave.

1.  Preheat your oven to 400ºF.

Preheat your oven

2.  Wash your spaghetti squash.

Wash your spaghetti squash

3.  Hack it in half with a large knife.

Cut your spaghetti squash

4.  Scrape out the seeds and the fine, stringy gunk (I use a soup spoon).

Scrape seeds out of your spaghetti squash

5.  Place both halves facedown on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with olive oil or cooking spray.

Put your spaghetti squash on a baking sheet

6.  Put the baking pan into the preheated oven.

Bake your spaghetti squash

7.  Bake for 30-45 minutes (depending on the size of your squash, maybe a bit longer if you have a really big one), or until the outside is slight browned, and the flesh is soft enough to be scraped out easily with a fork.  I usually start poke it with a fork around 30 minutes, and then keep an eye on it if it isn’t ready.

Check your spaghetti squash

8.  Scrape out the “noodles” with a fork (or two).

Scrape your spaghetti squash

9.  Serve with your favorite sauce and enjoy!

Spaghetti squash noodles

Full disclosure:  The squash I used for the “prep” photos is not the same as the one that provided the “noodles” for the last photo.  The first one I baked up more resembled a broken-strands-of-angel-hair squash.  Not what I was going for, though tasty sauteed up for lunch with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

Even if you aren’t gluten-free, I hope you’ll give it a try.  It is very healthy, tasty, and a great way to work some more veggies into you or your picky kids’ diets.  And that is never a bad thing.