Spaghetti squash is a bit of a miracle, isn’t it? Spaghetti might be the most perfect food on earth (aside from cheese, chocolate, and corn dogs), and Mother Nature found a way to grow it right out of the ground. Of course, spaghetti squash is a bit better for us than regular ol’ stick-to-your-ribs pasta, with more antioxidants and vitamins and all that other good stuff you need in your diet. And when you treat it right, it can be just as satisfying and delicious as classic spaghetti.
While it’s not a perfect substitution, spaghetti squash is pretty damn fantastic if you know how to make it properly. Luckily, it doesn’t take crazy culinary skills to make spaghetti squash do what you need it to. There’s no special equipment, no ninja-level knife skills, no “hack” or kitchen magic required. All you need to do is follow these simple directions to have perfectly prepared strands of spaghetti squash, upon which you can build a delicious (and nutritious!) masterpiece.
Yes, you can fully cook an entire spaghetti squash in the microwave (we’ll get there shortly!), but even if you’re roasting it in the oven, you may still want to give your squash a quick zap in the microwave to make it easier to split it in half.
First, stab your squash one or two times with a sharp knife, which will help keep it from exploding. Next, microwave it for 3-4 minutes until it softens just enough for you to easily cut it down the middle.
To keep the squash from slipping around, and to protect your hands from hot squash skin, use a kitchen towel to help hold it in place. Then, use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and any stringy bits from the center.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with either foil or parchment paper. Rub the squash’s cut side with olive oil, then place cut side down on the baking sheet. Stab the outside of each squash half about a dozen times to create vents for extra steam to escape.
Roast the spaghetti squash for 30 minutes. Carefully flip over one half with tongs and use a fork to check if the meat shreds easily with a fork; if not, flip it back over and roast for another 10 minutes before checking again. It’s ready when it begins to shred easily with the fork, but is not completely mushy.
Allow the squash to cool for about 10 minutes before shredding, using tongs to hold it steady as you do so. Discard the rind. Spread the squash out onto the baking sheet to allow steam to escape, so your squash does not become a watery mess. If you’d like to dry it out a bit, return the shredded squash to the oven and roast, giving it a stir every 5 minutes or so, until it’s at your preferred texture. See the list of serving suggestions below.
Fill a microwave-safe baking dish with about 1/2" of water. Place the squash halves, cut-side-down, into the dish, and stab the outside of each squash half about a dozen times to create vents for extra steam to escape. Microwave until soft. The amount of time this takes will depend on the size of the spaghetti squash and your microwave, so start at 5 minutes, check for doneness, and add additional time as needed. The spaghetti squash is ready when it begins to shred easily with a fork, but is not completely mushy.
Allow the squash to cool for about 10 minutes before shredding. Discard the rind. Spread the squash out onto a baking sheet or plate to allow steam to escape.
Once the squash is cooked properly, you can serve it plain, seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper, and maybe a tiny bit of good olive oil or butter. Spaghetti squash tastes beautiful on its own and it’s not always necessary to dress it up, but if you’re looking to turn it into a whole meal, here are some ideas:
- Toss it with an easy homemade marinara sauce and a bit of grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese.
- After mixing with a light oil, like grapeseed or avocado, drizzle it with honey-fermented garlic and some chili flakes.
- Generously toss the spaghetti squash with finely chopped herbs and brown butter crumble.
- Pile it on thick slabs of toasted bread with good salt, scallion sauce, and maybe some crumbled bacon.
- Sprinkle with a little chili powder or Tajin and serve with mushroom fajitas.
- Add to grain bowls as a topping, or build a bowl using the spaghetti squash as a base. You can eat it immediately after it comes out of the oven/microwave, or you can keep it in a container in the fridge for up to four days.