Spaghetti squash is a winter squash to become very familiar with this season. You can roast, boil or even microwave it, and the stringy flesh can be used as a substitute for pasta noodles! It starts showing up in markets in the early fall, and is as wonderful with a little butter and herbs as it is perched underneath tomato sauce and meatballs. Plus, it's so very simple to prepare! Here's one way to cook it.
The one debate that folks usually have when it comes to cooking spaghetti squash is whether to roast it whole or to slice it in half first. I've always sliced it because it's what I saw my mother do, so that's where I stand on the matter. I've never found cutting the squash in half to be too difficult if you have a decent enough knife.
And I almost always roast it because I think it draws out the flavor best. As long as you plan ahead, it's all hands-off cooking time.
You can eat spaghetti squash plain with a little butter and herbs (as directed below), but once you start making it regularly, you'll begin thinking of all kinds of things to do with it: stir in sauteed leeks and bacon, fold in roasted kale and mushrooms, or make a proper pasta sauce to spoon on top.
1 medium spaghetti squash (2 to 3 pounds)
Sharp chef's knife
Medium-size roasting pan or baking dish
Preheat the oven to 400°F: Preheat the oven while you prep the squash.
Slice the squash in half: Use a chef's knife to cut the spaghetti squash lengthwise from stem to tail. Spaghetti squashes are really tough and hard, so be cautious and work slowly. You can cradle the squash in a balled-up dish cloth to keep it steady as you cut.
Scoop out the seeds: Use a soup spoon to scrape out the seeds and stringy bits of flesh from inside the squash. Be careful of actually digging into the flesh though — we want that! The inside should look clean and smooth. Discard the seeds (or save them and roast them for a snack!).
Place the squash in a roasting pan: Place the squash halves cut-side down in a roasting pan.
Pour in a little water: Pour a little water in the pan, enough to cover the bottom. This helps the squash steam and become tender. You can also cover the pan with aluminum foil, if you prefer.
Cook the squash for 30 to 45 minutes: Transfer the squash to the oven and cook for 30 to 45 minutes. Smaller squashes will cook more quickly than larger squashes.
The squash is done when tender: The squash is ready when you can easily pierce a fork through the flesh all the way to the peel. The flesh will also separate easily into spaghetti-like strands.
Scrape out the squash: Use a fork to gently pull the squash flesh from the peel and to separate the flesh into strands. The strands wrap around the squash horizontally — rake your fork in the same direction as the strands to make the longest "noodles."
Serve the squash: Serve the squash immediately, tossed with a little butter or olive oil. Spaghetti squash will also keep refrigerated for up to a week, or frozen for up to 3 months.
Roasting the Squash Whole: Instead of cutting the squash in half, you can also roast it whole. Roast until a fork can easily pierce through the outer peel and all the way to the interior of the squash, about an hour. Slice in half and carefully remove the seeds and stringy flesh, then scrape the flesh as directed above.