Spaghetti squash is almost magical: you start with a firm oval squash, in appearance not unlike those sitting next to it in the supermarket. But once roasted, spaghetti squash couldn’t be more different than its fellow squash! The flesh breaks into long firm threads that have a striking resemblance to the pasta it’s named for.
Ready to tackle your spaghetti squash? Here's what to know.
What to Know About Cooking Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti squash tastes like the slightly sweet nuttiness of summer squash with a hint of the winter squash flavor you’d expect from a pumpkin. The long treads almost pop when you bite into them and maintain an al dente quality when roasted.
Spaghetti squash easily takes on the flavors of the recipe you are using it in, which means that sauces, seasonings, and dressings all work well. It can be served like pasta with marinara or pesto, but it’s also delicious baked into breakfast casseroles or served like a pasta salad with olives and crumbled feta.
Roasting is the Best Way to Cook Spaghetti Squash
There are quite a few ideas out there on how to cook spaghetti squash, but the truth is, it shines best when you roast it. Roasting the squash slightly caramelizes the edges and deepens the flavor.
Roasting also helps dry out the squash so that it easily pulls away from the skin, which is a good thing since spaghetti squash holds a lot of water and you don't want to transfer that liquid to your recipe.
Another important step? Salting spaghetti squash before you roast it! This also works to draw out moisture and keep the squash from being too watery later on.
Of course, each squash is a little different. A vegetable’s water content varies from season to season due to growing conditions. If you find your squash is still too watery even after salting and roasting, let it sit in a strainer to drain excess liquid after it's cooked, kind of like how you’d drain pasta noodles in a colander. You can also squeeze it if you wish, but this tends to crush the threads and take away some of its appealing texture, so do so gently.
Spaghetti Squash Recipes
Most of the time our ideas for spaghetti squash are inspired by pasta recipes, and it’s true that spaghetti squash is great topped with your favorite marinara or tossed with basil pesto. You can even add a grilled chicken breast or meatballs.
But there's so much more you can do with spaghetti squash! Chop it and stir it into egg bakes and breakfast casserole; use it as burrito and quesadilla fillings; or add it to a vegetable stir-fry. You can also substitute spaghetti squash in noodle dishes such as Pad Thai or use spaghetti squash in place of some of the potatoes in a hashbrown casserole.
Here are a few more recipes to get you inspired:
- Spaghetti Squash and Chard Saute
- Cheesy Spaghetti Squash Casserole
- Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Sausage and Kale
How to Cut and Cook Spaghetti Squash
The squash will be hard so be sure to use a very sharp, large knife and work carefully.
- 1 spaghetti squash
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Halve the spaghetti squash:
Set the squash on a steady surface and line the surface with a dish towel to keep it steady and reduce the chance it will slip. Using a sharp knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise from stem to end.
Scoop out the seeds:
Use a spoon to scrape out and discard the seeds.
Season the squash:
Place the squash on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Rub it over both sides of the squash.
Pierce the squash:
Place the squash cut-side down. Pierce the skin of both halves in a few places with a fork.
Roast until tender, then cool:
Place the squash in the oven and roast for 30 to 40 minutes. The squash is done when you can pierce through the skin and the flesh is tender. Flip the squash to be cut-side up and allow it to cool until you can handle it, about 10 minutes.
Scoop out the squash:
Use a fork to break up the flesh of the squash and scrape it away from the skin. Discard the skins. The squash is ready to use. Similar to most cooked vegetables you can also store it in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days before using.