Spaghetti squash is a delightfully zany choice for your kitchen. Firstly, it’s not even a vegetable as you might suppose, in botanical terms, it’s a fruit! And, the flesh inside, once cooked, presents itself in long strands of squash flesh that look just like spaghetti pasta!
This ‘vegetable’ with an identity crisis has a lot to offer in the kitchen and we’re going to look at spaghetti squash and how to prepare it, cutting and chopping it easily, cooking with spaghetti squash and some innovative recipes that take spaghetti squash to the next level.
Spaghetti squash is known for its very hard and unyielding skin. So, the first thing we need to do for ease of use is soften the spaghetti squash.
Softening your spaghetti squash – 2 methods
- Take the whole, unskinned spaghetti squash and pierce it deeply with a fork or strong knife about 10 times, making sure to space the holes around the squash evenly. This is essential to stop the squash exploding from the steam built up inside.
- Once pierced all over, place the squash in the center of your microwave on a plate.
- Microwave the squash on high heat for 4 or 5 minutes, no longer than that.
- Once the squash has finished microwaving, allow it to sit until cool enough to handle.
- Once the squash has cooled down, you can comfortably cut it as you desire.
- Preheat your oven for 10 minutes to 375F or 190C.
- Place your whole, unskinned squash onto a metal baking sheet and pierce the skin of the squash deeply with a fork or strong knife. You should pierce the skin about 10 times, all over the circumference of the squash.
- Put the squash on its sheet into your oven (middle level) and bake it at 375F/190C for 40 to 45 minutes.
- You’ll know the squash is cooked to tenderness if you can easily insert a knife or fork into it.
- If it’s still hard, proceed to bake the squash at the same temperature for another 10 minutes.
- Once the squash is soft enough for you to use, take it out of the oven and allow it to cool down so that it’s safe to handle without burning yourself.
- Once the squash has cooled down it will be both cooked and ready to cut or serve.
Spaghetti squash: deal with the peel
As with other squashes, the skin of the spaghetti squash is edible. However, once cooked it develops an unpleasant texture and is usually discarded.
There’s no need for separate peeling prior to using spaghetti squash, so save yourself a laborious kitchen task! For using spaghetti squash in recipes, you’ll likely only be using the flesh of the fruit, and we’ll show you how to do that with no peeling necessary, because we’re awesome that way!
Cutting spaghetti squash
Tools you’ll need:
- A non–slip chopping board
- A strong and preferably heavy chef’s knife, nice and sharp
- A kitchen towel
- A bowl for discarded bits
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Note: Soften the squash first according to our guide and remove the stem which is fibrous and woody.
To remove the stem, simply cut it off with your chef’s knife, about ½ inch off that end of the squash. Save the stem end for your compost heap or discard it.
Put a kitchen towel onto your chopping board, and then place the squash on the towel to cut it. This will prevent the squash rolling around.
A slightly textured board like wood will give better grip
- Remove the stem as we’ve outlined above.
- Holding the squash firm
than one made from a smooth material.
Halving spaghetti squash and removing the seeds
- Place your whole, softened squash on your kitchen towel in the center of your sturdy chopping board.
- Remove the stem as we’ve outlined above.
- Holding the squash firmly in your non-knife hand, make one sure incision from the stem end to the base of the squash with your chef’s knife.
- You will be cutting along the length of the squash all the way through, from end to end.
- Continue working the knife into the squash and exerting pressure if you meet resistance.
- Once you’ve divided the flesh of the squash into two halves with your chef’s knife, you can use your hands to twist and pull apart the two halves of the squash.
- Now that the spaghetti squash is divided into two long shaped halves, either one or both cavities on the inside will have seeds.
- Remove the seeds and the surrounding fibrous matter by scooping these out gently with a large metal spoon.
- The seeds can either be cleaned and roasted for eating or discarded, as you prefer.
Once your spaghetti squash is halved and deseeded you can either leave the skin on and fill the cavities with a stuffing for roasting in the oven, or you can proceed to chop down the squash further into cubes:
Cutting a spaghetti squash into cubes or blocks
Take your whole, softened spaghetti squash and remove the stem. Halve it lengthwise and remove the seeds as outlined above. Then:
- Place a half of the spaghetti squash lengthways in front of you with the skin side facing up.
- Next, take your chef’s knife and cut horizontally once along the length of the spaghetti squash half through its middle.
- Once the half of squash is split along its length into two pieces, hold those pieces together with your non – knife hand and slice from one end of the squash to the other, making vertical cuts.
- This will divide the squash into blocks. Vertical cuts that are wide apart will give chunky blocks of squash, and vertical cuts closer together will give smaller blocks.
- Once the squash is cut into squares of a size that you desire, you can now use your chef’s knife to cut down along the side of each square, where the flesh meets the skin.
- Cut carefully along that meeting line and divide the flesh entirely from the skin.
- Once you have separated all the blocks of squash flesh from their skins you can use the squash blocks in a recipe and discard or compost the unpalatable skin pieces.
Many spaghetti squash recipes will call for the flesh to be taken out of the squash in long strands (spaghetti). Here’s how to achieve this effect in your home kitchen:
Cutting spaghetti squash for spaghetti strands
- Halve the spaghetti squash follow the method above.
- Cut along each half of spaghetti squash vertically, in increments of about an inch, so that the squash is divided into thickish rings.
- Once both halves of the squash are completely divided into rings, either cook the rings of squash a little more if needed, or if they’re soft enough simply take a fork and scrape the strands of ‘spaghetti’ off the inside of the skin, moving around the circumference of each ring.
- The strands of squash spaghetti will run around the rings in a circular fashion, so try to scrape these out whilst maintaining their shape, this will give you longer strands of squash flesh. Exert a very light pressure as you ‘tease’ the strands away from the skin so that you don’t break them.
- The outer tough rings of skin can be composted or discarded.
Your threads of squash flesh can now be served as a vegetarian/vegan alternative to starch spaghetti or included into a recipe as directed.
Cooking spaghetti squash – grill or oven
Grilled spaghetti squash on the barbeque
- Cut your raw and unsoftened spaghetti squash (skin on) in half lengthwise.
- Remove the stem if it’s still present and discard.
- Scrape out any seeds and pith matter.
- Season the interior of each squash half with a dash of oil and liberal seasonings such as salt, pepper, and garlic.
- Ensure that your barbeque grill is at medium heat and place the halves of squash on the grill skin side down, so that the cavity with the seasonings is facing upwards.
- Cook for 20 minutes and then flip the squash halves over so that you can cook the interior surface. Cook for a further 10 minutes or until the flesh is soft.
- When you flip the squash watch out for splattering oil.
Oven roasted spaghetti squash
- Take your softened, whole spaghetti squash and cut it in half lengthways.
- Remove the stem end, seeds, and pith.
- Give each inner cavity of your squash halves a dash of oil and season with your desired spices.
- Lay a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet and place each half of squash face down on top. The skin will be upwards.
- Bake in the middle of your oven at 400F for 40 minutes or until the squash is tender.
- When done, simply flip the halves cavity side up, and use a fork to gently tease the strands of squash away from the skin shells.
Our top picks for spaghetti squash recipes!
Keto Mexican spaghetti squash casserole
This low carb treat delivers big spicy flavor. Perfect for Mexican cuisine fans! Link to recipe from the My Life Cookbook.
Spaghetti squash with sauteed veggies
Another high health offering that celebrates spaghetti squash! Add meat protein if you fancy it, or enjoy this veggie meal as is, you won’t feel deprived at all. Link to recipe from The Cozy Apron.
Spaghetti squash FAQs
Spaghetti squash is something different and exciting to add to your fruit and vegetable intake. This guide to prepping, cutting, and cooking spaghetti squash (along with yum recipes!) has given you a great springboard to dive into spaghetti squash and make the most of it.
Thank you for joining us again dear reader! Do explore our blog for more informative and useful fruit and veg content.