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Ingredient Spotlight: Spaghetti Squash

If you’ve never tried spaghetti squash, you’re in for a whole new world of tender deliciousness. Spaghetti squash is a nutritious, gluten-free, low-carb alternative to pasta that is easier to make than spiralized vegetable noodles and just as versatile. Add it to your grocery list and dig in!

How to Choose and Prep Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is a yellow, oblong winter squash that looks a bit like a melon. It’s in season between October and December. Choose a heavy spaghetti squash that is firm, with no soft spots or bruises. If you purchase a case of squash in bulk at the farmer’s market, you can store it for up to four weeks in a cool, dry place.

There are lots of easy ways to prepare spaghetti squash. The most common are roasting, steaming and cooking in the microwave. To prep, carefully cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, then scoop out the seeds with a metal spoon.

  • To Roast: Place the two halves of the squash, cut-side down, on a well-oiled baking sheet. Roast at 375-400 F for 20-25 minutes or until tender.  
  • To Steam: Place the two halves of the squash, cut-side down, on a deep baking dish filled with one inch of water. Bake at 375 F for 30 minutes, or until tender.
  • To Microwave: Place one half of the spaghetti squash, cut-side down, into a microwave-safe baking dish with one inch of water. Microwave on high for 10-15 minutes, or until tender.

After cooking, let the spaghetti squash cool, then gently scrape the noodle-like strands from the skin with a fork into to a separate bowl. Eat your squash plain, or use it as a replacement in your favorite pasta and noodle dishes.

Note: Don’t throw out those seeds — you can clean them, dry them and toast them in the oven with a bit of olive oil, salt and spices for a healthy snack!

Nutritional Benefits

Spaghetti squash is a nutrition powerhouse, and good for just about any dietary restriction or preference. It is a smart spaghetti replacement for those following a gluten-free diet. It’s also a wonderful spaghetti substitute for folks on a low-carbohydrate meal plan, or those simply looking to manage their weight.  

One serving of spaghetti squash (1 cup, 155 grams, cooked) contains:

  • 42 calories versus 245 calories in cooked pasta.
  • 1 gram of protein versus 9 grams in cooked pasta.
  • 0 grams of fat versus 1.44 grams in cooked pasta.
  • 10 grams of carbohydrates versus 48 grams in cooked pasta.
  • 2.2 grams of fiber versus 2.8 grams of fiber in cooked pasta.
  • 181 milligrams of potassium versus 68 milligrams in cooked pasta.
  • 5.4 milligrams of vitamin C versus 0 milligrams in cooked pasta.
  • 170 IU of vitamin A versus 0 IU in cooked pasta.

Although spaghetti squash contains a small fraction of the calories you’ll find in an equivalent portion of regular semolina pasta, it is close in fiber content. This makes it a great alternative for those of us trying to lighten up our diets and manage our weight. Though it is significantly lower in protein than regular pasta, spaghetti squash offers plenty of other key nutrients such as antioxidant vitamins A and C and potassium.

Spaghetti Squash Inspirations

Mild in flavor without too much sweetness, spaghetti squash makes a seamless ingredient swap for pasta recipes, beautifully taking on the flavors of sauces and spices without any squash-like aftertaste. Try these three twists on classic pasta recipes featuring spaghetti squash and see for yourself!

Garlic Shrimp with Cilantro Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash & Meatballs

Lemongrass Pork & Spaghetti Squash Noodle Bowl with Peanut Sauce

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