There's a lot of spaghetti in a spaghetti squash. The squash has been cut in half, and the threads "spaghetti" have been separated with a fork.

Grow Your Own Spaghetti

One of the things we try to do at Patty Cake’s Pantry is to provide healthy and nutritious meals for our family.  This may not always be apparent when you look at the recipes that I post.  There have been several banana bread variations, and cookies.  There was even a recipe for some chocolate cookies with caramel centers.  There are also many recipes for dishes containing pasta.  This might lead one to believe that all of us at Patty Cake’s Pantry suffer from carbohydrate addiction or at the very least carb overload.  In spite of all these recipes, this isn’t the case.   This blog represents only a portion of what we eat and cook.  Sometimes, as any regular visitor knows, I forget to take pictures even when I’m making a recipe specifically for my blog.

In this post, I want to talk about one of the things we do to cut back on carbs during our meals.  It’s a pasta substitute that will cut calories as well as carbohydrates.  This substitute is none other than the humble spaghetti squash, which can be grown in your own backyard.

A squash vine growing next to a house with white clapboard siding.  On the vine is a spaghetti squash, still green with the blossom drying on one end.  ding

Spaghetti squash are winter squashesThat means that, unlike zucchini, you can’t harvest them when they are small.  They need to mature on the vines and require a very long growing season to accomplish this, about 100 days.  Also, unlike zucchini which will produce squash all summer long, the spaghetti squash only produces 4-6 squash per plant.  (I have personally never had my spaghetti squash plants produce more than 2-3 squash per plant, but we have very poor soil that we continually amend to improve growing conditions. )  The good thing about spaghetti squash is that they have a fairly long shelf life, about two months, if they are mature when picked and stored in a cool, dry environment.  This is a good thing.IMG_2274

If you’re not a gardener, don’t worry.  Spaghetti squash can be found in the produce section of most grocery stores.  It’s also very easy to cook.  Spaghetti squash doesn’t taste like spaghetti, but it has a texture similar to capellini, or angel hair pasta.  Unlike many squashes, it has a very delicate flavor which is a great accompaniment to a variety flavors.  It can be topped with garlic and herb infused oil and parmesan cheese, mixed with a cheesy sauce,  topped with a bolognese sauce, pesto, or even turned into a curry dish.  It takes a bit longer to cook than spaghetti, but I usually start cooking the spaghetti squash in the oven and then start on whatever sauce I’m serving it with.  This way, the squash is cooked and I have time to shred it before pairing it with whatever kind of sauce I’m using.   Spaghetti squash really is  amazingly versatile, but how do you cook it?

Preparation is really very simple.

seeds and strings are removed from spaghetti squash prior to cooking.
First, cut the squash in half and remove the seeds and stringy things from the middle, being careful not to scrape away too much of the flesh.
Spaghetti squash in pan with water
Place the spaghetti squash in a pan, cut side down and add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Usually, this is between 3/4 and 1 1/2 cups.
When you can stab a spaghetti squash with a fork, it's done.
Place the pan containing the spaghetti squash into a 350 degree oven and bake for 30 minutes or until it is easy to stick a fork through the skin on the squash and into the flesh.
begin to loose the strands from the squash
Remove the squash from the oven and flip it over so that the cut side is up. Use a fork to loosen the strands of squash. Be careful. The squash will be very hot at this time, and if you’re not careful, you can get burned.
The strands grow horizontally
Once the strands of squash are loose, carefully draw your fork horizontally across the squash to ensure that you have longer strands.
There's a lot of spaghetti in a spaghetti squash.
After several minutes of scraping, you will have quite a pile of spaghetti squash strands stacked inside the squash peel. These can either be removed to a plate and topped, or stirred into whatever sauce you’re using. If you want to highlight that you’re eating squash, serving the strands of squash, and the chosen sauce, inside of the skin makes for an attractive plate.

I mentioned the calories that can be saved by using spaghetti squash instead of traditional noodles.  One cup of spaghetti squash has only 31 calories.  This is significantly lower than the 200 calories found in a cup of cooked angel hair pasta.  Spaghetti squash is low in carbohydrates making it a good choice for people with diabetes or on carb restricted diets.  Also, unlike spaghetti or capellini, spaghetti squash contains higher concentrations of vitamins and minerals.  All in all, spaghetti squash is a good choice.

Thanks for visiting Patty Cake’s Pantry.  Please leave me a comment and tell me your favorite way to serve spaghetti squash.  If you’re looking for more recipe ideas, the Huff Post has an article containing 29 spaghetti squash recipes.

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  This is my favorite way to prepare spaghetti squash.  There are many other methods mentioned on the web.  A google search will present several–baking dry, microwaving, baking whole, and others.  The one thing I had never heard of was boiling spaghetti squash.  I should say that I had never heard of it until I read this post at Kitchen Hospitality.    Knowing that I can prepare the squash by boiling it means that I might be more willing to prepare spaghetti squash during the warm days of summer when I don’t want to turn on my oven.  (I don’t know why I never cook it in the microwave.)

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