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 (about 3 pounds)
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon chopped herbs of your choosing (rosemary, basil, thyme, chives, dill), for serving
1 tablespoon butter, for serving
Sharp chef's knife and cutting board
Medium-size roasting pan (or baking sheet)
Small serving bowl
1. Cut the squash in half lengthwise with a sharp knife. Be careful, go slow, and cautiously slice the squash in half.
2. Scoop out and discard the seeds.
3. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place squash halves cut side up on a heavy-bottomed roasting pan. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. You don't have to be too careful here: just slather, sprinkle, and it's ready!
4. Roast for about 45 to 50 minutes, or until a fork punctures the flesh of the squash easily. If the squash seems to be drying out while baking, brush with an additional tablespoon of olive oil.
5. Remove squash from the oven and allow it to cool just enough so you can handle it, about 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape the flesh from the squash into wonderful, stringy "noodles" with a sturdy fork and place in a small serving bowl. If some of the strands clump or gather together, simply separate them using your hands.
6. Serve squash with a bit of butter and a teaspoon or so of your favorite fresh or dried herbs. Alternatively, see some of the recipes below for inspiration and more advanced ideas.
• If you have leftover cooked spaghetti squash, it keeps wonderfully in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days and reheats in the microwave. Sometimes I'll actually make extra on purpose to have leftovers throughout the week.