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    Emily Malone

    culinary arts grad. nutrition facts lover. vegetarian chef. marathon runner. country music maniac. failed dog trainer. barre fanatic. loving mama.

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How-To: Mastering the Spaghetti Squash

Last week I wrote a post about cooking my favorite fall foods, and I had more than a few people ask me for more specifics on cooking the spaghetti squash.  I decided a photo tutorial was in order, and I happily headed to Trader Joe’s to pick up another squash to be cooked and photographed!  Only for you, blog readers, only for you…

I have made this squash plenty of times, but it wasn’t until I found this recipe, and then made a few adjustments of my own, that I really fell in love with the stuff.

I present to you…how to cook delicious spaghetti squash!

(Apologies in advance for the horrible photos.  New camera is my number one christmas wishlist item – can anyone recommend a good camera for macro photos that is not a million dollars?)

First, and perhaps the most commonly forgotten step, is to pre-heat your oven.  375 degrees – I even snapped a picture for you visual learners (thank you, Springer!).

November 015

Okay – start with a spaghetti squash (obviously), and cut lengthwise – be careful!  Cutting all the way through is harder than it looks!

November 001

Once you have your two halves, scrape out the loose strings, seeds, and squash guts.  My weapon of choice for this is a grapefruit spoon – it works perfectly!

November 003

Another one of my cooking must-haves…the trash bowl.  I put this blue bowl on the counter every time I cook, and I use it to hold any food waste, empty cans, paper towels, packaging, etc.  It saves me a lot of time constantly running over to the trash can, and it makes clean up super easy.

November 004

Now that your halves are empty, grab a head of garlic.  The first time I tried this version of spaghetti squash, I cut thin slices of garlic and laid them all around the squash.  While the flavor was still great, I didn’t like eating such large hunks of garlic in the final product, so this time I added minced garlic instead.  If you are a garlic lover, you could go either way. 

November 005

Before you add the garlic give your squash a quick spray of olive oil.  I like to usse this one from Crate and Barrel that sprays real olive oil, rather than the aerosol chemical sprays.

November 006

Now that your squash is all shiny, spread the garlic slices or bits aaaaaall over the edges and rim of the bowl.  Don’t be stingy.  Garlic = good.

November 008   November 009

Next, we season.  Salt and pepper should never be out of reach.  Again, don’t be stingy – there is a LOT of squash in there, and you want the flavor to penetrate the entire squash as it bakes.  Give a good dousing of pepper, and then sprinkle salt all over the top.  Once you’ve seasoned, give it another healthy spray of olive oil.

November 010   November 011

Grab a baking dish – my squash was big, so I used an 11×17 – and add 1 cup of water to the bottom.  Place your garlicy goodness halves face up in the baking dish, and put the pan in the oven.  If you have followed directions from step one, your oven should be preheated to 375 degrees by now!  :)

November 012   November 014

Now for the hard part – wait one hour.  And let me tell you, the longer that garlic bakes and fills your house with its smell, the more you will want to rip it out of the oven and wolf it down.  Be patient.

November 013

I know, waiting is hard for all of us.  :)  Check the squash in an hour.  Once the sides are starting to wrinkle, and you can tell that the squash is starting to pull away from the shell, it’s ready.  Pull it out and set it on your counter.

November 016

Okay, now for the hardest step of all.  More waiting.  It is very tempting to burn your fingertips off and attempt to scrape out all this garlicy goodness the minute it comes out of the oven, but I promise you – you need to wait.  Try to wait at least 20 minutes, at least enough to let the shell come to room temperature, and the rest of the oils and seasonings to soak in.  I promise you that your squash will not get cold in 20-30 minutes.  Trust me, I was very nervous about it cooling down and being gross, but it will still be piping hot when you start to pull away the insides.

In the meantime, stop thinking about eating your squash and make yourself some sauce!  This week’s sauce was my attempt to use up veggies that were getting old.  I sautéed some zucchini, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes on the stove for about 15 minutes, and then added the second half of a leftover jar of marinara sauce to finish.  While I continued to wait for my squash to cool, I also made a salad.  Distract yourself!

November 017   November 025

November 018

Okay, it’s been 25 minutes.  I can’t take it anymore.  Time to peel the squash.  Grab it with a potholder in one hand – I promise it is still very hot – and place the squash in a large bowl.  Grab a fork with your other hand, and start to scrape down towards the bowl.  If you cooked it long enough, and let it rest and cool, the squash should start flaking apart like noodles very easily.  If you have to use force, you didn’t cook it long enough (put it back!).

November 021   November 020

November 022

I usually scrape as much as I can in one direction, and then flip it vertically and scrape in the other direction so get as much out of the shell as possible.  Casey makes fun of me for literally trying to get every strand out of the squash, but if I’ve learned anything in culinary school, it is to not waste your food.  Literally, every piece counts.  Repeat with the other half, and discard the shells once they are empty.

November 023   November 024

Toss your "spaghetti" strands, and add additional seasoning if needed (but if you didn’t skimp in the prep phase, it shouldn’t need it!).  Sometimes if we want spicy spaghetti I will add roasted red pepper flakes at this point, but I didn’t this time.

Portion your bowls, add your sauce and a few pinches of yummy mozzarella or parmesan cheese and – voila!

November 026

An absolutely delicio
us and ridiculously low-calorie alternative to a gigantic bowl of pasta.  Don’t get me wrong, I love me some pasta, but for every day dinners and calorie control, I’d much rather eat a huuuuge bowl of this than a tiny bowl of the real deal.  (Tiny bowl of black beans added for protein!)

November 028

So for those of you who commented or emailed that you hadn’t tried this, I encourage you to grab one the next time you’re at the grocery store.  Squash are in season right now, and in season is code for inexpensive!

Are there any other foods that you want me to demo?  Something you’ve been too scared to try?  Don’t be afraid to ask – I am always up for a kitchen challenge, and Casey is nice enough to eat all of my experiments!  :)

Or perhaps my demos should wait until I get a better camera…

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31 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Charlie     at 12:48 am

Instead of putting squash seeds to the trash, wash off the pulp, dry them and bake at 350°F for about 15 minutes. They are really healthy and if you like pumpkin seeds, you will like these too!
You can also add spices before baking them!

[Reply]

Renee     at 9:35 pm

I had given up on Spaghetti Squash because it was so bland. I can’t wait to try it your way!

[Reply]

Emily @ The Front Burner Blog Reply:

Oh good – I hope you like it! I think the garlic makes it so much better.

[Reply]

Renee Reply:

I finally got around to making this last night. It was so good, my boyfriend ate two huge plates!

[Reply]

kara     at 3:53 pm

Your instructions made me smile : )
You sound like a Great Cook!
PS. I use the Ove Glove! Makes it so easy to remove the hot strands.

[Reply]

Emily @ The Front Burner Blog Reply:

I need an Ove Glove!

[Reply]

Carrie     at 3:43 pm

I’m so glad you put in this line: “Cutting all the way through is harder than it looks!” I felt like I was trying to cut through stone…but maybe mine wasn’t super ripe? Or maybe my knife sucks? But it turned out delicious and garlic-y. Great tutorial!

[Reply]

Emily @ The Front Burner Blog Reply:

Haha YES, they are SO hard to cut through! I’m always afraid I’m going to cut my hand off. Glad it turned out well!

[Reply]

Shanria     at 5:54 pm

i followed your directions to the T, but instead of using a pan like yours, i used a broiling pan…i dont know if that was the brightest decision, but i was wondering if the water is suppose to evaporate? thanks a lot! HUGE fan of your work! As a brand new vegan, all of your information and tricks help so much! Thank you for all you do!! =)

[Reply]

Emily @ The Front Burner Blog Reply:

Some of the water will evaporate, and you can always add more if it’s starting to burn. So glad you like the blog! :)

[Reply]

Meg     at 8:39 pm

I just did this for the first time tonight. Delish! Thanks for the tutorial!

[Reply]

Joy     at 9:13 pm

WIth acorn squash, I pierce them a few times then micorwave them whole. Then cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and season. This is SO MUCH EASIER! Would this work for the spaghetti squash? Might be worth trying.

These tough hard squashes used to really scare me when cut them.

[Reply]

Emily @ The Front Burner Blog Reply:

They scare me too!! Always think I’m going to chop my hand off. The microwave is a good time saver, but you don’t get all that great garlic and salt flavor in the final product. Worth the hour!

[Reply]

raynboestar     at 11:30 am

YUUUUUMMMMMM. I LOVE to read your blog:-) Spaghetti squash is my favorite and I’ve never tried baking with garlic. I will pick up a squash this week and give it a try. Deliciousness.
I also am a huge fan of your olive oil sprayer rather than the aerosol can. Do you use olive oil in a frying pan too or when you sautee veggies for your sauce? I was wondering if it can tolerate the high heat?

[Reply]

Emily @ The Front Burner Blog Reply:

I use olive oil or coconut oil, depending on the veggies. You just have to be careful to not let it get too hot!

[Reply]

MaryBe     at 2:47 pm

I have this in the oven right now and it.smells.amazing!
I had planned to serve this with your delicious creamy mushroom sauce but I think the garlic will overpower that delicate sauce? Think I will use marinara or just some earth balance…
Thanks for the tutorial. Previously I would just cut it in half and roast it but I can tell already this is a much better way!

[Reply]

Emily @ The Front Burner Blog Reply:

Hope it turned out delicious! :)

[Reply]

Brenda     at 8:07 pm

I’ve always wanted to try this! Now I know how!
How many portions do you get out of one squash?

[Reply]

Lynn     at 11:40 pm

Mike worked late this evening, and I had this spaghetti squash sitting on my counter, so… I just had to try this recipe (also had a zucchini, some mushrooms, and leftover spaghetti sauce – it was meant to be). Spectacularly delicious! I am really enjoying your blog, Emily. Not sure how you manage it all (do you sleep, too?), but keep up the good work :)

[Reply]

Emily @ The Front Burner Blog Reply:

Hi Lynn!! I am so glad you liked it. :) I am making spaghetti squash tonight – YUM.

[Reply]

Melisa     at 11:27 pm

Just tried your tutorial on how to master the spaghetti squash and it turned out great! This was my first attempt at spaghetti squash and it was fantastically delicious — even my carnivore husband LOVED it! THANKS! :)

[Reply]

Sensical Musings » And in this corner…     at 3:36 pm

[...] shells which seems to yield a lesser volume of food. By following the suggested cooking method at The Front Burner , I was able to extract nearly every strand and wound up with two HUGE plate fulls of [...]

somethings up.. « Enjoying The Chaos     at 9:16 pm

[...] I got straight to work on dinner…I had been planning on making my first spaghetti squash for the last few weeks…so I followed Emily’s direction to Mastering the Spaghetti Squash  [...]

Ronny     at 8:50 pm

Thanks for this amazing tutorial, had a super great dinner!!!

[Reply]

Easy Chicken Parm… » theSheenBean     at 9:12 pm

[...] I am going to share a few photos of how I made dinner but Emily has a great tutorial on how to cook a spaghetti squash. [...]

Ali     at 8:22 pm

This turned out great – thanks!

[Reply]

Things I Love ed. 12 + a recipe!     at 2:31 pm

[...] this a lot recently in lieu of eating regular pasta and it’s wonderful! I always follow the Daily Garnish’s instructions for cooking. Most recently I’ve been leaving out the garlic because I’ve been [...]

Spaghetti Squash “Pasta” « sweetlyvegan     at 11:19 pm

[...] they turn into little strands that look just like spaghetti.  Angel hair to be more exact.  Her recipe really caught my attention, and I couldn’t wait to make my own.  So I went out, bought one [...]

Tiffany     at 3:16 pm

Thank you so much for the tutorial! I just made the spaghetti squash for lunch and it was amazing!! The garlic made it so delicious and the house smelled so good!! :)

[Reply]

Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Chickpeas (& the best cat videos) « the taste space – steam, bake, boil, shake!     at 2:26 am

[...] oven to 400F. Place rack in center of oven. (If you are fancy, try smearing the halved squash with garlic, oil and salt and pepper first). Pierce the spaghetti squash multiple times with a fork or knife. Place on a baking sheet and bake [...]

Chelsey     at 5:39 pm

I am very impressed with the Misto Olive Oil Mister I got last year.
It uses less oil which has to be more healthy and
it will save dollars too.

[Reply]

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