The first time I attempted making spaghetti squash I was skeptical to say the least. I picked one of these yellow squash up from the bin at Kroger staring at it thinking “This is probably just going to be one of those mediocre health substitutes for pasta that people rave about on social media”. But… not the case!
Ok ok so the first time I baked the squash, I completely over baked it ending up with mushy strings of “spaghetti”. Even though the texture was not the best, I tasted its potential to be super delicious when prepared properly with its slightly sweet yet nutty flavors. So round 2, I paid more attention to the baking time & voila! It spaghettized itself super easily (yes spaghettized cause what else would you call it?!), gave me nice tender/firm “noodles”, & mixed in wonderfully with different spices & add-ins.
Why Eat Spaghetti Squash??
- Nutrient dense
- Budget friendly
- Super easy to cook
- Exceptionally tasty
- A family friendly vegetable
A lot of people like to eat spaghetti squash when reducing carbs because it mimics pasta & can be easily prepared with the same flavors of pasta dishes like pestos (So good!), baked with cheese, & tomato sauces. For me, a meal is not nutritionally complete without a whole grain carb so I also like to mix in grains to the squash like barley or farro.
This squash not only surprised me with its funky, fun spaghetti nature with a sweet, nutty flavor, but also in its nutrients. It’s nutrient rich with manganese which is a superpower for bone health, high in fiber, as well as B vitamins & potassium like many other squash. To keep the squash perks goin, its also budget friendly! I typically get one at the store for 97cents a pound. One squash makes quite a healthy portion of squash so this lasts for several meals!
Making the Squash
- Cutting it open– First things first… we’ve gotta get this baby open. Cracking open squash is not always the easiest task because of breaking through its thick, dense outer skin. It’s best to use a large chef knife stabbing the middle of the squash & pressing the knife firmly in a downward motion. The squash should separated lengthwise. Once it starts separating, carefully remove the knife, turn the squash around & repeat on the other side.
- Remove the seeds– Once the squash is cut open, we need to remove the seeds. Cutting the squash lengthwise makes it easier for removing seeds while also assists in the squash cooking evenly. Using a large spoon, scoop out the seeds so the inside of the squash is clean. Careful not to get carried away & start removing the meat of the squash.
- Baking prep– Now that our squash is cut & cleaned we’ll lightly season for baking. On a sheet pan you’ll salt, pepper, & oil the squash with the cut side up. Once you’ve lightly seasoned it, turn the squash over so its cut side down on the pan. Baking the squash cut side down helps steam the squash creating tender strings of “spaghetti”.
- Bake time– Remember not to do what I did & ridiculously over bake the squash or else you’ll be like “huh, what’s so great about this vege??”. Typically, the squash needs about 35-45 minutes to bake in an oven preheated at 400F. The size of the squash will vary the cook time as well as texture preference in how tender or firm the spaghetti is desired. Sometimes I like to bake mine on the lesser side as I will then sauté it with other flavors in a saucepan, like in this recipe!
- Spagettize!- Alright, this is the best part… making it into “spaghetti”. Allow the squash to cool slightly so it is comfortable to handle. Using a fork, your basically going to rake the squash. Working in a downward motion, lightly press the inside of the squash with the fork dragging it downward. You’ll see the magic happen! Repeat until all the meat of the squash has been removed.
Spaghetti Squash with Bacon & Onion
- 1 spaghetti squash
- 2 sm. yellow onion
- 4 garlic cloves
- 6 pieces of bacon
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons basil
- 2 teaspoons thyme
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- salt to taste
- olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400F. Cut the spaghetti squash open lengthwise & scoop out the seeds with a spoon.
- Drizzle the cut side of the cleaned squash with olive oil & season with salt & pepper. Lay cut side down on a baking sheet & bake for 35-45 minutes. The squash is done when tender & lightly brown.
- While squash is baking, thinly slice the onions, mince the garlic & chop the bacon. Sauté the onion & bacon over medium/low heat until the onions are translucent & golden brown. About 15-20 minutes. Add the minced garlic & continue sautéing for about 5 more minutes. Set aside.
- Remove the spaghetti squash from the oven. Using a fork, lightly drag downwards to get the spaghetti shape squash. Continue this motion until all the meat of the squash in removed. Place spaghetti squash in pan with onion mixture.
- Add in the basil, thyme, & white wine vinegar to the squash & onions tossing to combine. Serve at warm & enjoy!