Most of us think of spaghetti squash as a healthy substitute for pasta. It is. But what you may not realize is how delicious spaghetti squash can be when it's cooked in a way that brings out its best al dente texture and sweet nutty flavor.
The best way to cook spaghetti squash is to roast it in the oven, cut-side-up, with a little olive oil and salt. So simple, and so good, you'll want to eat it right out of the shell.
Brushed with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and cooked cut-side-up in a hot oven for a short amount of time, this spaghetti squash gets the full benefit of high-heat roasting. The olive oil encourages browning, which is what makes roasted veggies so delicious, and the squash gets perfectly cooked - tender with a little crunch.
Cooking spaghetti squash is pretty easy, but if you get it wrong you can end up with flavorless mushy mess. If you're going to cook spaghetti squash, you need a cooking method that maximizes its flavor and texture.
So what is the best way to cook spaghetti squash?
That's difficult to determine by research alone because when you you search the web for how to cook spaghetti squash there are so many different articles touting so many different methods - it's dizzying.
Some chefs and bloggers focus on baking the squash whole to avoid having to cut it when it's raw, some advocate for super quick microwaved spaghetti squash, still others claim that for the best flavor you should cut the squash into rings and then bake it.
By far the most popular recommendation is to slice the squash in half and cook it in the oven, cut side down - some of these recipes say to add water to the pan, others say to leave it out.
I cook spaghetti squash once a week - have for years - and I've tried LOTS of different cooking methods - mostly with the squash cut in half and roasted in the oven. I can tell you from experience, the problem with roasting spaghetti squash face down with water in the pan is that the squash steams, gets soggy, and doesn't develop a tasty roasted squash flavor.
Cooking the squash face down without water in the pan is a little bit better, but not much. Squash is made up of mostly water so even without added water, if spaghetti squash is cooked cut-side-down, it will still steam in its own released juices.
My tried and true favorite way to cook spaghetti squash
Of all the methods I've tried and tasted, the best way to cook spaghetti squash is to roast it in the oven, cut-side up, with no added water, just some olive and salt.
More details and photos below, but before we talk too much about cooking this squash, we have to talk about cutting it.
It unnerves me that so many spaghetti squash recipes casually call for "one spaghetti squash cut in half lengthwise" with no further instructions, as if cutting a spaghetti squash in half is easy - it's definitely not.
Spaghetti squash is a hard-shell squash with a very hard shell. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten my knife stuck into the squash like cement, with the only recourse being to grab the knife handle and slam the squash down on the counter, hoping for the best. Thankfully I found a better strategy.
How To Cut A Spaghetti Squash - The Reliable Way
Here's how to do it:
- Start with a small sharp knife - because it's easier to puncture the hard skin of the squash with a small sharp blade than with a larger one. Make a series of deep slits along the top of the squash, from stem to tail. The grooved path you create with the little knife will make it much easier to sink your large knife deep into the flesh of the squash and ultimately cut it in half.
- Now use a large sharp knife - Starting in the middle of the squash, insert the knife straight down into the groove (facing away from your hand) and cut down towards the end of the squash. Remove the knife, re-insert it where you left off, and make another cut. Keep cutting in this manner until you reach one end of the squash. Then turn the squash, start from the middle, and work towards the other end.
- Repeat the process a few times, going deeper with each cut. If, in the end, you can't cut through the hard stem, simply pry the the two halves apart to pop it open. With patience, you'll have that squash cut in half before you know it.
- Note: if you find it difficult to cut through the squash, even after making the slits, pop it in the microwave for 2 minutes on high, to soften it.
Now you're ready to get cooking.
How To Cook Spaghetti Squash - step-by-step
Cut the squash in half lengthwise (instructions above) and scoop out the seeds.
Lay the squash halves on a rimmed baking sheet - cut-side up. Don't add any water to the pan. We want to roast the squash, not steam it.
Brush the insides and tops generously with olive oil and season them with salt. Fresh ground black pepper is delicious too, if it works with the recipe you're preparing.
Roast the squash in a preheated 425ºF/220C oven for 30-40 minutes, checking for doneness after 30 minutes. The squash is done if the strands easily pull away from the shell when tested with a fork.
When the roasted squash is cool enough to touch, use a fork to scrape the strands away from the shell, working from the outside in.
I especially love roasted spaghetti squash with my favorite turkey ragu, cooked al denté, the same way I like my pasta.
Here are the directions for how to make delicious roasted spaghetti squash. If you try this method, I hope you'll come back to leave a star rating and a comment. I'd love to know what you think.Print