I don’t like most fake pastas. I’ve tried those shirataki noodles that Hungry Girl raves about and they made me sick. I just can’t take the weird mouth feel of them. I’m not even a big fan of wheat pasta. I like Dreamfields, but my blood sugar reacts to that almost like it does normal pasta, so why pay the extra for it? I often make my own pasta, but it’s really not much healthier than the store bought stuff. It just tastes better.
I hadn’t tried spaghetti squash until my mom decided to go low carb. I’ve always seen them in the grocery store and thought, “What kind of demon vegetable claims to transform into spaghetti? That thing has to be the results of some kind of dark magic.” That and I thought it would taste like eating pasta sauce over yellow squash. Yuck.
Since I’m challenging my perceptions of vegetables, I bought one and I can’t believe I’ve lived all these years without them. I’ve eaten it every week since then, because pasta is my weakness. To me, spaghetti squash are just as easy to prepare as regular spaghetti, and almost as tasty. The squash has a little bit of a crunch that pasta doesn’t, but other than that, I find it quite nice.
I’m not going to give you a recipe for sauce in this post. I’ve found this squash takes just about any type of sauce you can throw at it. I’ve made it with regular marinara, chunky marinara, pesto, tossed it with vegetables and olive oil, tossed it with olive oil and herbs … the only thing I’ve found it didn’t taste great with is Alfredo sauce and other cream sauces (some people like it with Alfredo too). That is awesome for low carb dieters, because you have almost all the variety of meals that pasta can give you, but it’s low carb and low calorie. Woo!
|Squastimus Prime: Ready to transform.|
When buying a spaghetti squash, choose one that is heavy for its size. The smaller ones generally taste better, but even a small spaghetti squash should be large, compared to most squashes (except pumpkin). They are generally about 8 inches by 5 inches. They should be uniform in color without too many blemishes and no soft spots. You want to feel it to make sure the flesh is firm all around. The one picture is a little ugly, but it’s still a good squash. The flesh is firm, and a few blemishes are ok.
This thing is so amazing. It lasts forever. If you store it in a root cellar, it can last up to 6 months before it goes bad. Even at room temperature, you have a few weeks before it starts going bad. It also freezes well. I can’t eat a whole spaghetti squash. It makes about 4-5 servings. It tastes fine reheated too, but I don’t like to eat the same thing every day. I cook it and shred it (see below) and then put the spaghetti in a freezer bag. It reheats and tastes about the same. I’ve never frozen it with sauce, but I guess that would be ok too. I use the sauce to heat the frozen squash up for 4-5 minutes.
I always give you the nutritional information, but the fact is that the spaghetti squash isn’t really that nutritious. It’s mostly water. Other winter squashes are better for you. It’s what it’s lacking that makes it a great substitute for regular spaghetti. According to the USDA, 1 cup of spaghetti squash has 42 calories, 0.4 gram of fat, 10 g of carbs (4 grams of sugar) and 2.2 g of fiber. Compare that to regular spaghetti. One cup of spaghetti gives you 220 calories, 1.3 grams of fat, 43 grams of carbs (0.8 grams of sugar) and 2.5 grams of fiber. I can have a whole spaghetti squash for one serving of spaghetti.
You also have to factor in your sauce. It can be low carb, high carb, low calorie, high calorie, nutritious or not. The choice is between you and your pancreas.
You can cook spaghetti squash in a variety of ways from crock pots to pressure cookers, but the easiest and quickest way is to stick the whole thing in the microwave. I was once told by a professional chef that a true food lover would never have a microwave in their house. How pretentious. Microwaves are perfect for certain tasks, and cooking spaghetti squash is one.
To microwave the squash, you just poke a few holes in it with a knife (so it won’t explode) and pop it in a microwave whole for about 12 minutes. Let it cool for another 5-10 minutes before you split it open. Baking and boiling a whole squash takes about an hour. Sticking one in the crock pot takes all day. A pressure cooker takes about 12 minutes too. Alternatively, you can speed up the cooking by cutting the squash into cubes before you cook it, but these guys are hard to cut when raw. The cubes makes shredding it a lot less fun.
After it’s cooked and cooled, the next step is to cut it in a half and remove the seeds and the pulp, the slimy stuff that holds the seeds in. You’re going to think you’ve been gypped. It doesn’t look much like spaghetti at all. It looks like a pumpkin. Like pumpkin, that slimy stuff is not tasty, so even if you have to remove a bit of the flesh, get it all. The seeds can be saved and roasted. They taste a little like pumpkin seeds.
The next step is the most fun part. You get to make spaghetti. Invite your friends over and show them how awesome you are. Just take a fork and rake up and down the cleaned flesh and you’ll get “noodles.” I generally prop mine up in a bowl and shred the spaghetti squash over it.
I find that spaghetti squash taste best cooked with the sauce. It’s ok if you just pour the sauce over it, but cooking them together makes it really shine. Most recipes serve the sauce over the squash, so I may be in the minority. You should try it with a variety of sauces and techniques and see what you like best. You can pretty much do anything with it you can do with normal spaghetti, including baking it in a casserole. I’ve even seen a recipe for a mock lasagna with it. The spaghetti squash was layered with lasagna ingredients. My favorite way to eat it is sauteed with some fresh vegetables, olive oil, garlic and herbs. I get the vegetables going first and add the squash in the last few minutes. Yum!
Total fat: 0.4 g
Protein: 1 g
Total carbohydrate: 10 g
- Dietary Fiber: 2.2 g
- Sugar: 4 g