Winter squash is a vegetable that some people avoid because they are not sure how to cook it. Others give it a pass because the squashes are so very hard, and they are afraid that it would be too difficult to cut. Let’s gain a little cookery confidence by improving our squash skills using the family meal friendly spaghetti squash.
After cooking, have some fun dragging the tines of a fork lengthwise through the squash to remove those long lovely and nutritious strands. Look at that beautiful mountain of squash!
Since you cooked it, you may as well serve it. The easiest way is to drizzle a bit of garlic and olive oil on top – or add a ladle of spaghetti sauce and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
Below are eight different ways to cook spaghetti squash. Which one will be right for you? I usually use the whole squash in the oven method because my hands are arthritic and do not work well when I try to cut a hard squash in half. My slow cooker is not big enough for any but a smallish squash, but if it fits yours, it is such an easy method… or I could use the microwave method…
Easiest of all Slow Cooker Whole Squash Method – Place the whole squash (do not poke holes in it) in a slow cooker with one cup of water. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Carefully remove it from the cooker, slice in half, remove the seeds and pulp in the middle, drag the tines through the strands, and proceed with your delicious recipe.
Oven Only Whole Squash Method – Pierce the whole squash several times with a sharp knife. Use a very sharp knife and please be careful. The point only needs to go in 1/4-1/2 inch, not all the way through to the meat. Bake the squash on a rimmed pan or baking dish at 375°F degrees for one hour and 15 minutes, or until a fork easily pierces the squash. Flip it over after 40 minutes. You do not need water or a cover for the squash. Once it is easily pierced with fork or knife, remove from the oven and let it sit for 15 minutes. It can stay in the baking pan. Slice it in half lengthwise, scoop seeds and pulp, and remove the strands with a fork, placing them in a serving dish. If you need to heat marinara or other quick to fix side dishes, the time to do that is while the squash sits. Easy and peasy.
Quick Microwave Whole Squash Method – poke 10 holes in the squash with a knife about 1/4-1/2 inch deep. Do be careful to not stab yourself, a sharp knife will pierce your flesh too. The holes will let a little steam escape while the squash microwaves. This prevents squash explosions that are not part of a delicious recipe. Microwave on high for 10 minutes, in a casserole dish. Next, put on two oven mitts and carefully turn the squash over – it is already quite hot. Microwave for 10 minutes more, or until it softens. Allow the squash to rest 15 minutes. Now, using hot pads to protect your hands, carefully cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and pulp. Remove the strands with a fork by drawing them longways through the squash. Proceed with your recipe.
Microwave & Oven Whole Squash Method – This method is good for those that want oven cooked flavor, but (like me) have arthritic hands and cannot cut through a raw squash. Poke the squash several times with a sharp knife. Microwave, in a casserole dish, on high for 10 minutes and allow it to set 15 minutes. Slice in half and remove the seeds. Bake upside down with a little water in a 375°F oven for about 20-30 minutes or until the squash is soft and easily pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven and tine through the strands.
Relaxed Forget About It Microwave Method – Pierce the squash about 10 times, place in a casserole dish and microwave for 15-20 minutes. The exact time depends on the wattage of your microwave. Forget about it for an hour or more. Go shopping or clean the living room. Suddenly remember that the squash is still in the microwave. Remove it if it is easily pierced with a knife. Nuke a few more minutes if it is not ready but it should be just fine. Slice it in half, scoop the seeds and pulp, and tine the strands.
Halved Squash Microwave Method – Slice the raw squash in half and remove the seeds and pulp. Place cut side up in a large microwave container. Add a cup of water, cover with a lid and cook on high for 8-10 minutes. Allow to set for 10 minutes and then check with a fork for tenderness. Carefully drain and remove the strands.
Oven Only Halved Squash Method – Use a large very sharp knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise. If this is not something you can do because of arthritic fingers or lack of strength, select one of the other methods. After cutting the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and pulp. Bake at 375°F, cut side down in a pan covered with foil for about 30 minutes, or until the squash is softened and easily pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven. Turn right side up and use a fork to remove the strands.
Boiled Halved Squash Method – Slice the squash in half and remove the seeds and pulp. Place cut side down in a large pot and add a couple inches of water. This requires a very large pot. Put the squash in before the water boils to make sure the pot is big enough and that you have added sufficient water. Bring to a boil, cover, and allow to a strong simmer for 20 minutes. Check for tenderness with a fork, carefully drain, allow to cool to the point where the squash can be handled, and proceed with the removal of the strands.
What way did you choose to cook spaghetti squash?