A spaghetti squash is a variety of winter squash, pale yellow to ivory in color,
weighing between 6 to 8 pounds (2.7 to 3.6 kilograms). Pulling a fork through the cooked flesh of the squash will separate it into long spaghetti-like strands, hence the name. The mild taste that absorbs surrounding flavors, crispy texture and low calories make the spaghetti squash a popular vegetable to add to pasta dishes, or to eat on its own.
In the early 1990's a new variety of orange spaghetti squash hit the market. Orangetti is slightly sweeter and higher in beta-carotene than standard spaghetti squash. Either way a four-ounce (113 gram) serving will only set you back 37 calories!
To choose a good spaghetti squash you'll want to look for a hard fruit absent of bruises that feels heavy for its size. It should be close to 9 inches (23 centimeters) in length with about a 5 inch (12.7 centimeter) girth and even, pale coloring. If it is green it isn't yet ripe.
Spaghetti squash doesn't have to be stored in the refrigerator and should last about a month at room temperature. An average squash will yield about 5 cups of flesh. You can freeze the cooked flesh by placing it in freezer bags. When you're ready to eat it just allow it to partially thaw then steam it for about 5 minutes.
Spaghetti squash can be baked, boiled, microwaved or put in a crock pot.
To bake spaghetti squash preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius) and prepare it much like you would a baked potato, by using a knife or large fork to pierce through the rind several times. Place the squash on a baking dish and allow it to cook for about 40 minutes. Begin testing it, again as you would a potato, until you can feel the flesh is tender. Once it's done you can cut it in half, remove the seeds and either comb out the flesh to use in another dish, or eat it as a baked potato substitute. In that case add the usual toppings of butter, cheese, sour cream, etcetera, to taste.
To boil a spaghetti squash bring a large pan of water to a boil then carefully place the entire squash in the pan. Test it after about 20 minutes by trying to pierce the rind with a large fork. When the fork easily passes through, the squash is done. Let it stand a few minutes to cool before you cut it in half to remove the seeds and comb out the spaghetti.
If you'd like to microwave your squash, cut it in half and remove the seeds first. Place the halves in a microwave dish and add 1/4 cup water. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and cook the squash about 10 minutes on high. Depending on your microwave and the size of the squash, the exact time will vary. Again, test it for softness.
If you'd like your spaghetti squash to cook while you're at work, buy one that is small enough to fit in your crock pot. Prepare it as if you were going to bake it, by piercing the rind of the whole squash several times. Place it in the crock pot with 2 cups of water before you leave for work. By the time you get home 8 or 9 hours later it should just be ready! Let it cool before you cut it in half to remove the seeds and comb it out.
Spaghetti squash is part of the cucurbit family of watermelons, pumpkins, gourds, cucumbers and cantaloupes, and provides an excellent source of folic acid, a good share of potassium and some vitamin A to boot. Many people enjoy adding it to prepared pasta dishes or even serving it with marinara or alfredo sauce. Cooked spaghetti squash can also be chilled and tossed with a light vinaigrette.
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