Discovering Spaghetti Squash

Discovering Spaghetti Squash
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Averaging from 4 to 8 pounds, the cylinder shaped spaghetti squash is generally available year-round with a peak season from early fall through winter. While a true spaghetti squash is pale ivory to pale yellow in color, in the early 1990's, an orange spaghetti squash, known as "Orangetti" was developed and this is what is most frequently found in today's supermarkets. Higher in beta carotene, the orange variety is also bit sweeter than its paler counterpart, although both have a mild flavor that is easily enhanced by the food served with or on it. A dieter's dream, a four-ounce serving of spaghetti squash has only 37 calories.
When buying spaghetti squash, look for hard fruit that is heavy for its size, about eight to nine inches in length and four to five inches in diameter and with a pale even color. Avoid any squash with soft spots and green color is a sign of immaturity. The average four-pound spaghetti squash will yield about five cups of cooked squash.

An uncooked Spaghetti Squash can be stored at room temperature for about a month. After cutting, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 2 days. Spaghetti squash also freezes well. Pack cooked squash into freezer bags, seal, label and freeze. Partially thaw before re-using, then steam until tender but still firm, about 5 minutes.

How To Cook Spaghetti Squash

Bake It -- Pierce the whole shell several times with a large fork or skewer and place in baking dish. Cook squash in preheated 375°F oven approximately 1 hour or until flesh is tender.

Boil It -- Heat a pot of water large enough to hold the whole squash. When the water is boiling, drop in the squash and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on its size. When a fork goes easily into the flesh, the squash is done.

Microwave It -- Cut squash in half lengthwise; remove seeds. Place squash cut sides up in a microwave dish with 1/4 cup water. Cover with plastic wrap and cook on high for 10 to 12 minutes, depending on size of squash. Add more cooking time if necessary. Let stand covered, for 5 minutes. With fork "comb" out the strands.

Slow Cooker or Crock-Pot -- Choose a smaller spaghetti squash (unless you have an extra large slow cooker) so that it will fit. Add 2 cups of water to slow cooker. Pierce the whole shell several times with a large fork or skewer, add to Crock Pot, cover and cook on low for 8 to 9 hours.

Once the squash is cooked, let it cool for 10 to 20 minutes so it will be easier to handle, before cutting in half (if it wasn't already cut for cooking) and removing the seeds. Pull a fork lengthwise through the flesh to separate it into long strands. You can do these steps ahead of time, then prepare any of the spaghetti squash recipes whenever the mood strikes.

Spaghetti Squash With Vegetables & Mozzarella

1 spaghetti squash

1 large yellow onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 T olive oil

1 large can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes

3-5 cloves garlic

1 tsp. basil

1/2 tsp. oregano

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (optional)

1 C grated mozzarella cheese

1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese

Serves 6-8

Cook spaghetti squash by your favorite method and remove flesh. Preheat oven to 375 F.

Heat olive oil in a skillet and add the onion, pepper and garlic. Sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, basil, and crushed red pepper (if using). Simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes.

Mix squash well with the cooked vegetables and put half in the bottom of a large (13 x 9 inch) baking dish. Top with half the cheeses, followed by the other half of the squash mixture, then the rest of the cheeses. Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and slightly browned. Let cool 10-15 minutes before serving.

Spaghetti Squash Alfredo

You can make this rich Alfredo sauce lower in fat by using reduced fat sour cream and low fat cheese.

1 medium-sized spaghetti squash, cooked and separated into strands

1 cup sour cream sour cream

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

Serves 6-8

In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the all ingredients except spaghetti squash over medium-low heat and whisk until smooth and creamy, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Add the spaghetti squash strands to the sauce and stir until thoroughly mixed and heated through. Serve immediately.

Spaghetti Squash Pancakes

These savory little pancakes are great with a little salt, pepper and sour cream for a side dish or appetizer.

6 C cooked spaghetti squash

1/3 C all-purpose flour

½ C grated Parmesan cheese

4 T butter

salt and pepper to taste

sour cream for garnish

Serves 6-8 as a side dish or appetizer

Separate the strands of the cooked spaghetti squash. Add flour & cheese. Mix well, using a couple of forks.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Spoon 1/4 cup squash mixture into skillet. With a fork, press to form an evenly thick cake. Repeat. Cook cakes until bottoms are lightly browned, turn over and brown second side. Continue until youÂ’ve used all the squash mixture. Use additional butter if necessary. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve with sour cream.

Note: For a different taste, saute the squash pancakes in olive oil.

Low Carb Spaghetti Squash Patties

A pancake without any starch, these little gems make great side dishes. You can dress them up with all kinds of sauces or dressing, but sometimes they are nice simply cooked in olive oil and sprinkled with a little salt and coarsely ground pepper.

1 medium spaghetti squash, cooked

4 eggs

2 T chopped green onion or chives

salt and pepper to taste

oil for skillet

Makes About 30 Patties

Add eggs, onion or chives, salt and pepper to cooked spaghetti squash. Form into 3 inch patties. Heat oil in a skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. For a different flavor, you can saute the patties in butter. For an Asian flair, saute in canola oil mixed with a few drops of sesame oil, serve with soy sauce.

Spaghetti Squash Frittata

Frittatas are the perfect thing for a quick, spur of the moment breakfast, lunch or light supper. TheyÂ’re even good cold, so you can pack them for a picnic or a brown bag lunch.

1 C cooked spaghetti squash, separated into strands

4 eggs, beaten lightly

2 T chopped Italian parsley

3 T grated Parmesan cheese

1 C finely chopped red onion

3-4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1/8 tsp. cayenne

1 T butter

Preheat broiler.

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Melt butter in a large skillet. Pour mixture into the skillet and cook over low heat for about 12-15 minutes. Transfer to broiler for 2 to 3 minutes or until top is browned.

Spicy Chicken & Spaghetti Squash Skillet

This spicy sauce, which makes good use of leftover chicken or turkey, is also great on true pastas, as well as spaghetti squash. For a vegetarian version, simply eliminate the meat. If you want a substitute, use extra firm tofu.

1 small spaghetti squash, cooked

2 T olive oil

1/2 C minced onion

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

2 green onions, finely chopped

12 oz. cooked chicken or turkey meat

2 C crushed tomatoes

¼ C dry red wine

2 tsp. capers

2 ½ tsp. fresh oregano (1 tsp. dried)

1 tsp. crushed red pepper

3 T Italian parsley, finely chopped

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat, saute onion, garlic and green onions for 2 minutes. Add the chicken or turkey and cook for about 3-4 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and wine and bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for another 5 minutes. Pour sauce over heated spaghetti squash and serve.

Middle Eastern Style Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash, which has a pretty bland flavor on its own, gets an exotic treatment in this Middle Eastern cuisine inspired recipe.

1 med spaghetti squash, cooked

2 T butter

2 T olive oil

1/2 tsp. ground cardamom

3/4 tsp. ground coriander

1/8 tsp. ground ginger

1/8 tsp. allspice

salt & white pepper to taste

1/2 C toasted slivered almonds

zest of 1 orange

Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat butter and oil then stir in spices, except salt and pepper. Cook for about a minute. Stir in squash and saute until well coated, adding white pepper and salt to taste. Remove to serving dish. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and orange zest just before serving.

Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Mozzarella

Who says pesto is only for pasta?

1 med spaghetti squash, cooked

1 T olive oil

3/4 C pesto sauce

4 oz smoked or plain mozzarella cheese, shredded

¼ C grated Parmesan cheese

Serves 6-8

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, add spaghetti squash. Using a couple of forks, mix in pesto. Cook just long enough to heat through, mix in cheeses, until everything is well mixed and cheese is beginning to melt. Serve immediately.

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About The Author

Cheri Sicard is the author of "The Great American Handbook: What You Can Do For Your Country Today and Every Day," and the editor of, a favorite net destination for recipes, cooking tutorials, health and fitness information, holiday and entertaining ideas, celebrity chef interviews, cookbook reviews and more. Sign up for their free cooking and recipe newsletters!

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