Who Knew? Spaghetti Squash Actually Resembles Spaghetti!?!

For years, whenever I heard about spaghetti squash one thought came to mind: Gimmick. Labeling can be such bullshit; frozen bean burgers are said to taste “just like beef;” there’s an item on menus called “cauliflower mashed-potatoes” (which are good, but sadly not mashed potatoes); and everything is low-carb, low-fat, high-fiber, nutrient-enhanced, and made to do every wonder for our bodies but taste good. You just can’t trust anything.

Who am I to know that spaghetti squash had been around since, like, the dinosaurs? I hadn’t known spaghetti squash existed before McDonald’s, the Atkins Diet, and commercials. I hadn’t known anything existed before commercials.

But, for the past few months, I’ve been walking past those big bully squashes in the veggie section of Whole Foods, eyeing them suspiciously. Maybe they aren’t so bad, I thought, but I sure as hell don’t know what to do with a five pound lump of a spaghetti squash. So I left them alone.

And then I stopped eating meat. Well, stopped would be an overstatement (but it makes for a more dramatic feeling, don’t ya think?). I haven’t so much stopped as limited my meat eating. In the past two weeks, I’ve gone from eating meat with dinner every night, to eating a total of three meals with meat—not including rendered bacon fat for sauteing (exceptions must be made you know.)

I’ve been eating a lot of squash. It’s probably the most satisfying non-meat food for me besides beans. That may not sound like a compliment, but trust me, it is. I love squash. I even love it enough to spend many dangerous minutes peeling and hacking it into pieces with a very sharp knife. It’s almost rewarding to spend so much energy in order to make roasted squash. Almost.

You see, spaghetti squash—which actually does flippin’ taste like a lighter, sweeter version of spaghetti!!!—isn’t rewarding to make. It’s a pain in the ass. The damn thing is too large to fit into one roasting pan to roast, you need two. And you can’t roast it on a baking sheet because you need to put water in the bottom of the pan while roasting. The water burns down and you’re left with two big, dirty roasting pans. And your back hurts from that damn car accident two months ago. And then—if you’re following this recipe, and you really should—you need to dirty a large skillet to saute the cooked squash with butter and chives. When you finally get to the table you try a bite and, even though your mouth is smiling, you feel like crying. Because it’s so god-damn good that you know you’ll be making this again and again. You eat the whole damn bowlful, half-happy, half-depressed. And when you’re finished, you have the urge to go out and buy another squash and do it all over again. But you’d be damned if it’s rewarding.

Chived Spaghetti Squash

makes a lot//adapted from Emeril

1 spaghetti squash, anywhere from 2 1/2 to 5 pounds
3 tablespoons butter
3-4 tablespoons finely chopped chives
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Using a sharp knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise and place, cut side down, in a baking dish (or two). Add enough water to come 1/2-inch up the sides of the baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes, until the squash is easily pierced with a paring knife. Turn squash over and cover with foil again and continue to cook another 15 minutes, until the squash is very tender. Remove from the oven, uncover, and allow to cool slightly. Using a spoon, remove the seeds and discard. Using a fork, gently pull the strands of squash away from the peel and place the squash strands into a mixing bowl.

Heat a skillet. Add the butter, spaghetti squash, chives, salt and pepper and toss thoroughly but gently to heat and combine. Serve immediately or cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

28 thoughts on “Who Knew? Spaghetti Squash Actually Resembles Spaghetti!?!”

  1. squash is one of my favorite things to eat but I think that it can be a total pain the ass too. I discovered that my local grocery store (Nob Hill chain) has already cooked and pureed winter squash in the freezer section and I have been living off it for some time. Although nothing beats the real thing, its a lifesaver on those nights when I don’t want chicken/pasta/eggs/etc. I may have to try this spaghetti version soon!

  2. Interesting stuff, I’ve never made a spaghetti squash. The only squash I’ve ever worked with is butternut, and it was chopped up, tossed with olive oil, brown sugar and cinnamon and baked. It came out like sweet home fries, really delicious. But spaghetti and acorn squash are foreign veggies to me, I must try them.

    That is the downside of squash though, it does take so damn long to prepare! I also used it in a soup once, and was fairly disappointed with the results, a mere 3 hours later. Several weeks later I bought a carton of butternut squash soup because I didn’t want to make it again. To my dismay, even the packaged stuff was better.

    The Peanut Butter Boy

  3. I take spaghetti squash – and I stab it all over with a fork. then I stick it in the microwave 3-5 minutes at a time until it is soft. Then I cut it in half and scoop out the seeds – a bit difficult to do because it is hot – but with an oven mitt it isn’t too bad. Much easier and much less clean up.

  4. I love Spaghetti Squash! Although I loath the microwave because I think it’s a copout, I have to admit that it comes in handy when making these noodle-like beasts. I chop them in half, take out the seeds and then place them cut side down in a glass dish half full of water. I microwave them for a few minutes and then test the squash to see if it’s pulling apart yet. You just keep going a few minutes at a time until you get it the way you want it. Obviously it depends on how big your squash is. The water steams the squash perfectly, and it takes less than 12 or so minutes!

  5. I’ve been eating spaghetti squash cooked in a microwave since the early 70’s and I think it’s fine in the micro. I really don’t know how to cook it any other way… I read, above, how someone puts a glass dish half full of water but that’s not necessary to use that much water. After cutting in half and seeding, pierce the skin in a couple of places with a fork. Place about 1/4″ of water in a glass dish and then place your seeded squash in the dish, skin side up; cover with plastic wrap. Set your timer to 10 minutes and your heat temp to 75% (or 70 or 80% depending on your microwave setting). This usually works well for 1/2 of the squash as most dishes will usually only hold half of the squash. Check the squash as the size can affect the time. I do not cook at 100% as it can cause the squash to pop and overcook in spots. After it is cooked, let it sit for a couple of minutes and then remove the wrap and use a fork to remove the strands. I like to eat it with just butter (real butter) and some Parmesan cheese. Your recipe sounds good but the oven method sounds too tedious. Enjoy eating spaghetti squash!

  6. Very daring Robin. I have never worked with spaghetti squash but you make sound really worth a try. Now that they are readily available, I must try them.

    Now who’s fooling whom with the pork fat non meat thingy, hmmmm?

  7. I haven’t had spaghetti squash in years, as I’m making the slow journey through college and don’t have that much time/energy to spend cooking for just little old me. However, my mom recently found out she is diabetic and really likes it as a pasta substitute! For those out there with a green thumb and a small appetite (or only cooking for themselves) you can get seed for *miniature* spaghetti squash! I imagine it will pop up in grocery stores eventually if you don’t like waiting a couple months for your veggies. 🙂

  8. I’ve recently discovered that I DO like spaghetti squash and have enjoyed it several times since then. I cook it in the microwave by piercing it several times and then cooking it on high for 15 minutes. I then let it sit in the microwave to cool. After that just cut it in half, seed, and pull! Yum! Im posting a new recipe I did next week sometime.

  9. Perhaps giving up meat has made you cranky. “Bullshit, hell, ass, damn (3), god-damn, damned.” Spaghetti squash makes me gag– I would probably need a bar of soap to cleanse my palate too.

  10. hi. just discovered your site. and i actually worked with one of these giagantic things last week and you captured the experience very well. it is indeed dangerous because it’s so difficult to cut. and yes, all my pans are nasty and browned at the bottom! anyway, i like the idea of using chives and am going to try this out (despite the struggle that will undoubtedly ensue).

  11. Part-time vegetarian: Maybe we’re just a bunch of far-out liberals, but the policy over here at Caviar and Codfish — yeah, that’s right, I’m making policy — is that offensiveness is judged by content and intent, not single words (which of course only acquire any power if you hide them or shriek about them). If you consider Robin’s claim that many labels are misleading offensive, then by all means write in; but don’t waste our time complaining that she wrote “bullshit” instead of “doodie.” You won’t shame anybody here.

  12. This looks completely delicious. And the challenging-ness, of course, only make we want to try it more. Great photos.

  13. I love spaghetti squash I did a recipe a few months ago with scallops and spag squash and it was wonderful. It’s also great with a splash of homemade tomato sauce for dinner.
    Can’t wait to try this version.

  14. i love spaghetti squash — when i find small ones, i just cut them in half, scoop out the seeds, fill each half with about 1/4 cup of water, and microwave them for about 12 minutes — works like a charm!

  15. Jim- thanks.
    katy- yeah the microwave seems to be the way to go with intimidating squash (when not in the mood to hack at it-almost cutting your fingers off, etc..) …

  16. hey girl.. never had spaghetti squash but it sure looks good. and since i’m so used to labor intensive food, i might be okay with the patience level on this one. and plus, any squash recipe is worth the pain.

  17. Hey guys! Thanks for all the comments! I wish I could do spaghetti squash in the microwave but currently the only microwave I can fit in my kitchen is a tiny one that’s perched atop my fridge (the only space for it!) I guess I’ll just have to dream about my big kitchen with lots of counter space until we move out!

    I’m so happy people are discovering the site too! I LOVE your comments!! 😀

  18. That may not sound like a compliment, but trust me, it is.

    it must be since you eat them almost every day for lunch! 😉

    sorry your back is still hurting. 😦

    I will add spaghetti squash to my list of to do. I’ve wanted to make it for a while and only discovered recently that hubby was cool with it. 🙂 so spaghetti squash it is.

    p.s. I added your boyfriend’s book to my amazon list. so it will be up for my reading soon! thank you both. 🙂

  19. I have been eating spaghetti squash since I was a small child! We would put sauce and turkey meatballs on top and spinkle it with parmesan cheese. I love it. We always cooked it in the microwave when I was younger, but I would opt to use the oven now (even though it is more difficult).

  20. Melissa- Thanks for the sympathy. Jim is super-excited that someone from my blog is buying the book too. Thanks! One warning though—it’s intense! 🙂

    Anticiplate- your turkey meatball version sounds delicious!!

  21. Yeah, squash is such a pain in the ass. I love it, but generally only eat it in the fall, when I get the obligatory pumpkin or two in October. The significant other gets teed off because hacking the damn thing to bits dulls his knives, and it’s such a pain, and if you end up with a squash with a particularly hard exterior and the knife slips, well, definitely had a couple close calls! But so yummy. Sigh. Definitely depressing. BTW, when and why did you decide to eat less meat? We went through a no-meat diet for Lent and are still figuring out how it’s affected our food desires in the post Easter world. In essence, we’ve been shocked that we’ve actually eaten vegetarian dishes 50% of the time this past week…and enjoyed it! Woaaah.

  22. I just had my first spaghetti squash dinner. I put a low carb red tomato sauce, parm cheese, seasalt and pepper on it. I loved it and I can’t wait to try more of the great meals suggested on this site. The microwave, cut in half with a small amount of water in each half method is the easiest way to cook this squash. I refridgerated mine after cooking and went to work on it in the morning with a cup of coffee. I bagged the rest up in portions and I’m good for the week.

  23. I’m going to make this for a friend tomorrow. She’s had all kinds of health problems and needs to discover the benefits and amazingness of spaghetti squash over regular noodles. And…I actually do find it rewarding, even if it is a bit troublesome.

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