Spaghetti Squash – Accepting It For What It Is

16 Jan

It seems impossible, but somehow I’ve survived 34 years and 2 stints in Weight Watchers without ever cooking spaghetti squash. Starving and delusional, many people following the program gush, “It’s just like eating pasta! You can’t even  tell the difference!”

They’re wrong. It’s funny how we can totally lie to ourselves when we want to drop a dress size.

Spaghetti squash with caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, and chicken sausage.

It’s stringy.  Other than that, it’s not like eating noodles, but no matter. Spaghetti squash has it’s own merit. It can be roasted in the oven, caramelizing the sugars and ramping up its inherent squashiness. Or, it can be nuked in the microwave in about 1/3 of the time, leaving it a blank canvas for whatever flavors you  toss it with.

I’ve never made spaghetti squash before, but I’ve eaten plenty of it. Like lots of vegetables, it’s bland when it’s not seasoned properly. That why I chose to toss mine with a whole bunch of bold flavors. I’m not giving a full recipe for this one. I raided my fridge and pantry, using what I had on hand, and eyeballed the amounts of the ingredients. This is my absolute favorite way to cook.  Taste and adjust as you go. You should try it! It’s liberating!

Here’s what I did:

  1. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Scooped out the seeds and guts and discarded. Sprinkled generously with salt and pepper. Placed cut side down in a glass 9 in. x 13 in. Nuked on full power for 15 minutes, checked to see if I could fork the flesh into it’s characteristic thin strands easily, couldn’t, and then nuked for another 5 minutes. That did the trick. Timing will vary depending on the size of your squash and the pep of your microwave. Everything else happened in the time the squash was cooking.
  2. Caramelized an onion with a few roughly chopped anchovy filets (left over from my kale salad) in olive oil, salt, pepper, and about 1 tablespoon of dry. Onions were cut into half moons so they’d be fork-twirlable like the squash.
  3. Cut a roasted red pepper into very thin strips (also twirlable).
  4. Seared off a couple of chicken sausages (Mild Italian flavor) and sliced on the bias.
  5. Deglazed the pan with a bit of Sauvignon Blanc (it was open). Added a small pat of butter and another pinch of Italian seasoning
  6. Grated some parmesan.
  7. Rough chopped a handful of parsley
  8. Pulled the cooked sqush apart with a fork. Drizzled with a bit of olive oil and sprinkled generously with salt and pepper. Tossed it all together and ate a huge amount. Saved half for an awesome lunch tomorrow.

Is spaghetti squash in your regular cooking rotation? How do you prepare it?

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19 Responses to “Spaghetti Squash – Accepting It For What It Is”

  1. Jess January 16, 2014 at 10:51 pm #

    Haha, I remember my first time trying spaghetti squash. I was so excited because I’d heard everyone say the exact same thing that you did: “It’s JUST like pasta!” “You can’t tell the difference!” etc.

    I was really pumped about the whole thing. I remember roasting mine in the oven, scraping the strands out, tossing them in some pasta sauce and sitting down to eat dinner. I shoveled a forkful in my mouth and started chewing.

    ….That was when I discovered that everything I’d heard and read about spaghetti squash tasting just like real pasta was a bunch of crap. It’s not like pasta. At all.

    But that didn’t keep me from swearing it off. I just learned other ways to cook it that were more appetizing to my personal tastes. I stopped trying to make it taste like pasta and used it more for casserole bakes instead- it tastes much better that way in my opinion. My favorite preparation is a ‘breakfast casserole’ where I mix cooked squash strands with vegetables, egg whites and turkey sausage in a dish, then bake it for about 45 minutes. It makes the squash resemble hashbrowns, and is REALLY very good.

    • Beth Somers January 17, 2014 at 10:58 am #

      I can get behind a spaghetti squash breakfast bake! That’s got a ton of potential! Thanks for the great idea, and for reading!

  2. Christina January 16, 2014 at 11:20 pm #

    I have never been a fan of squash in general and to me spaghetti squash is the worst. There is just something about the texture that does me in but then again I never liked sweet potatoes either and as i get older I have developed a love for them so maybe I will give it another try. Thanks for the great advice Beth.

    • Beth Somers January 17, 2014 at 10:59 am #

      You can taste my lunch today, if you want! :)

  3. D.J. Paris January 17, 2014 at 2:18 pm #

    I would love to try any leftovers. Please tell me there are leftovers. Don’t make me cry. That would be rude.

    • Beth Somers January 21, 2014 at 8:01 am #

      I will make it for you any time! That’s code for “there are no leftovers.”

  4. Sonya Mann January 17, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

    I like spaghetti squash! It’s definitely not exactly like noodles, but if you heap enough sauce on top. . . heh =P

    • Beth Somers January 21, 2014 at 7:58 am #

      That’s true! I wonder if meatballs would defeat the purpose? Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Amy January 18, 2014 at 4:34 pm #

    Spaghetti squash doesn’t taste exactly like pasta, it tastes exactly like . . . spaghetti squash. I like it baked and dressed with plenty of butter and freshly ground salt and pepper!

    • Beth Somers January 21, 2014 at 7:57 am #

      What isn’t better with butter? Thanks for reading, Amy!

  6. Alana Mautone (@RamblinGarden) January 18, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

    I’m in agreement with Amy – spaghetti squash tastes like….spaghetti squash! And I am not, truth to tell, too fond of it. If I am going to eat a winter squash my choices are butternut or carnival and it is prepared as a squash, not as ersatz spaghetti. I’m on Weight Watchers, and one of my “go-to’s” is sausage and peppers. The sausage is a good chicken sausage, the peppers are peppers but instead of potatoes we use winter squash. We also add in onions, which are the veggie that does best in our upstate New York garden.

    • Beth Somers January 21, 2014 at 7:56 am #

      I love butternut squash, ams that sounds like a great way to use it! That’s the second comment about subbing squash for potatoes. I’m going to remember that!

  7. catskillblogger January 19, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    I have a vague memory of my Mom making it once when I was little. It was not good, but I’m pretty sure she didn’t make a huge effort to dress it up either. I’d try it again though.

    • Beth Somers January 21, 2014 at 7:55 am #

      I have a lot of memories like that of my mother’s cooking. That poor woman…her children gave her hell about dinner every single night!

  8. TheFakeGourmet January 21, 2014 at 8:19 pm #

    Yeah, I never believe the “it tastes JUST like…” line. If it was JUST like it, it would be whatever it is supposed to be like. Just sayin’.

    However, I do like spaghetti squash, as long as the sweetness is balanced with enough strong, savory flavor. I made a casserole last week that included spaghetti squash, sausage, parmesan cheese, cheddar cheese, garlic, herbs, and some other stuff from my pantry that I don’t really remember. It was pretty good.

  9. Diana R. February 5, 2014 at 11:26 pm #

    I <3 spaghetti squash. A few years ago I became GF due to a Celiac's diagnosis. And while there are some wonderful GF pastas out there, now living overseas, in Japan, the choices are few. Spaghetti Squash, on the other hand, is readily available in my military commissary. So, move over GF pasta, which can taste like mush when I am distracted by kids, the dog, etc. Give me my lovely SS, a nice-a spicy meat-a-ball and I am there! Always love to try food in new ways too! Bonus!

    • Beth Somers February 17, 2014 at 9:02 pm #

      Meat-a-ball! Ha!

      I’m glad the squash works as a replacement for you. I wish I could trick my brain into it!

  10. 50by25laura May 11, 2014 at 7:32 am #

    I love spaghetti squash and have definitely been known to have it as a pasta substitute. However, I completely agree that it’s NOT just like pasta! I just think it tastes good with the same toppings that would you put on pasta, though the texture is quite different. Thanks for sharing this recipe (and to the commenters for their yummy-sounding ideas) :)

  11. mel May 11, 2014 at 4:58 pm #

    I tried spaghetti squash but thankfully didn’t go in expecting a pasta replacement! That would be pretty disappointing, I think! No pasta sauce, just salt and pepper. It’s alright, but I didn’t find it worth trying to cut through the rind, baking it perfectly (always mushy for me), and then shredding and cleaning up…

    Ever since a health blog suggested eating carrots instead of a sweet/salty snack, I view healthy replacements with a skeptical glance! Similar to some of those highly processed vegan alternatives… Why pretend that tofu isn’t really tofu? What’s so wrong with tofu, squash and other healthy foods that we have to pretend they’re something else?

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