Mother Nature's Little Joke on Pasta: Spaghetti Squash

Ingredient Intelligence

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Spaghetti squash is a cylinder-shaped hard winter squash that ranges in color from pale yellow to canary yellow. When you cut one open, it has seeds inside and looks like most other hard squashes — so why is it called spaghetti squash?

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Why Is It Called Spaghetti Squash?

How spaghetti squash got its name is actually pretty obvious. When you cook the squash, the flesh develops threads that resemble spaghetti, and it's long enough that you can twirl them around your fork. It's often used as a substitute for pasta.

Spaghetti squash is a filling, healthy main dish that's simple to prepare. A single 4-oz serving is only 37 calories.

How to Pick Spaghetti Squash

Select squashes that have firm outer shells — no soft spots — and are heavy for their size. The most common spaghetti squashes are pale yellow to creamy white, but there are also orange and patterned ones too. There is no taste difference between the colors, but the more orange-colored ones contain more beta carotene.

How to Prepare Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash can be boiled, microwaved, or our favorite method, roasted. To roast, cut in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds like you would with any winter squash. You can quarter these halves if you like. Add them to the bottom of a large casserole dish or baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with a little olive oil, and bake at 375°F approximately 1 hour or until flesh is tender.

Save the seeds and roast them separately for a great snack!

Updated from a post originally published in June 2008.

(Image credits: defotoberg/Shutterstock; Megan Gordon; Faith Durand)

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