Spaghetti squash is a hard, winter squash that when cooked, produces long, thin strands of flesh, much like spaghetti. Because of this, the meat of the cooked squash can be used in place of standard spaghetti noodles, making for a lighter, lower-carb "pasta" dish. While the texture and appearance is a close approximation of spaghetti, the taste — a little sweet — is not similar. Cook and shred spaghetti squash in advance, then heat it up with any type of pasta sauce for a fast weeknight supper.
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Roast spaghetti squash in the oven, boil it or cook it in the microwave. For all cooking methods, cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out all of the seeds and meat in the center cavity. To roast, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and place the squash cut-side down in a baking tray. Add 1 cup of water -- just covering the bottom of the cooking tray -- and cook the squash until it is tender. This takes between 30 to 45 minutes. To cook it in a microwave, place the cut squash facedown in a microwave-safe dish, stabbing the skin of the squash with a fork to allow steam to escape during cooking. Microwave on high for three to four minutes per pound. To boil, cut the cleaned halves in half so the squash is in quarters and place the pieces in a large pot, just covering them with water. Bring the water to a rolling boil and cook, covered, for about 20 minutes. In all cases, the squash is done when the inside is fork tender.
Making the Strands
When fully cooked, the flesh of the squash easily separates with a fork. Let the squash cool slightly before trying to make the strands as it is very hot and can easily burn your fingers. Pull the flesh away from the skin with the tines of the fork, breaking the meat into long, thin strands. Pulling toward the cavity of the squash creates longer strands.
Dress spaghetti squash with your favorite pasta sauce, such as a tomato-based marinara, a vibrantly green pesto or even a white clam sauce. Simple dressing options include butter or olive oil with salt, pepper, lemon and some fresh minced garlic. While pasta sauces are an easy go-to option, you may dress your squash noodles with more unconventional ingredients such as other roasted vegetables and some fresh cheese such as mozzarella or ricotta. Use fresh herbs for a punch of immediate flavor.
Reheating Noodles and Sauce
Precooked spaghetti squash can be reheated on the stove or in the microwave, with or without sauce. Either reheating method requires adding a little water — often no more than a tablespoon or two — to ensure the "noodles" do not become dried out. If your spaghetti squash has not been dressed yet, use the reheating time to make a quick sauce with fresh tomatoes, olive oil, basil and shredded Parmesan. Cooked spaghetti squash can be stored in the fridge for one week or frozen for up to three months. You can store the spaghetti strands already dressed or plain.
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