Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash 101 – The Basics

If you’re avoiding traditional pasta for whatever reason and are missing it, have you tried spaghetti squash? It’s a nutrient-dense food that is low in calories and carbohydrates. It’s easy to cook and can be used in many dishes that call for traditional pasta noodles. Give it a try sometime! Below is a lot of information that can help as you explore this versatile food.

I hope this helps!

Spaghetti Squash 101 – The Basics

About Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti squash are members of the Cucurbitaceae family. They are cousins with pumpkins, zucchini, and gourds. They are also known as vegetable spaghetti, noodle squash, mandarin squash, and vegetable marrow. Historians have found written records of the use of spaghetti squash in China from the early 1800s. It has since become popular around the world as a low-carbohydrate alternative to traditional spaghetti.

Spaghetti squash are small to medium in size with an oblong shape and are heavy for their size. The flesh is thick, dense and moist, and separates into long, translucent strings that look similar to pasta. When cooked, the flesh is tender and has a slight crunch and mild flavor. Spaghetti squash is often paired with marinara sauce, meatballs and Parmesan cheese, making a delicious mock spaghetti meal.

Nutrition Tidbits
Spaghetti squash is a nutrient dense food, meaning it is high in nutrients relative to its low number of calories. It is a good source of fiber, Vitamin C, manganese, and Vitamin B6. One cup of cooked spaghetti squash has a mere 42 calories.

Spaghetti squash is also high in antioxidants, particularly beta-carotene, known to help protect our cells from free-radical damage and ward off chronic diseases.

How to Select a Spaghetti Squash
Choose squash that are firm and free of spots and cracks. They should be heavy for their size. If possible, choose one that still has a bit of stem attached, as it can help prevent bacteria from entering the squash.

How to Store Spaghetti Squash
Store unwrapped squash in a cool, dry, and well ventilated place for up to 3 months, depending upon how old they are when you buy them. The ideal storage temperature would be 55 to 60°F. If you refrigerate them, they will keep for 1 or 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

To store cut squash, tightly wrap the cut section in plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator and use it as soon as possible.

How to Preserve Spaghetti Squash
Cooked spaghetti squash strands can be stored in the freezer for up to 8 months. It’s helpful to remove any excess water first. Place the baked squash in a colander over a large bowl. Cover and place it in the refrigerator overnight. This will help drain off any excess water. Then carefully place the drained strands in a freezer bag and squeeze out the air, or place them in an air-tight freezer container. Store in freezer.

How to Prepare Spaghetti Squash
Preparing a spaghetti squash is easy. Simply wash it, then cut it in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds by scraping them out with a spoon. Place each half, cut side down, on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and roast at 400F until fork tender. The time will vary depending upon the size of the squash.

When tender, remove from the oven and allow it to cool slightly until it can be comfortably handled. Then turn it over and loosen the squash strands with a fork. Remove them to a bowl and proceed with your recipe. The squash strands can be flavored to your liking and eaten right away without further cooking, if desired.

If you prefer not to cut the squash, simply wash it then poke holes in it with a sharp knife. Roast on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet or pan at 400F until fork tender. Allow to cool until it can be handled. Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. With a fork, release and remove the strands and prepare as desired.

Cooking/Serving Ideas
Use cooked spaghetti squash strands as if they were cooked spaghetti. Their use is only limited to your imagination!

For a decorative way to serve spaghetti squash, reserve the halved shells after removing the strands. Prepare your recipe, then use the shell halves as serving bowls.

Simple serving ideas:

* Toss the cooked squash strands with your favorite tomato sauce. Add meat of choice, if desired, and sprinkle with cheese. Serve in the shell halves for a decorative touch!

* Combine cooked squash strands with your favorite stir-fried veggies.

* Toss cooked squash strands with your favorite pesto. Top with cut grape tomatoes and your favorite cheese.

* Sauté chopped garlic in butter or olive oil. Stir in cooked spaghetti squash strands until heated. Remove to a serving platter and sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese.

* Sauté cooked squash strands in some butter or olive oil with a mixture of fresh basil, parsley and chives. A touch of garlic would be a nice addition. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Top with Parmesan cheese, if desired.

* Toss cooked squash strands with steamed broccoli, a little olive oil, and a sprinkle of lemon pepper. If desired, top with Parmesan cheese.

* Spread cooked spaghetti squash strands on an ovenproof baking pan. Top with tomato sauce and your favorite pizza toppings. Sprinkle with some oregano and mozzarella cheese. Bake at 400F until the topping is hot and cheese is bubbly, about 20 minutes.

* Incorporate cooked spaghetti squash into your favorite pasta casserole in place of the pasta.

Suggested Flavor Combos:
* Spaghetti squash + balsamic vinegar + kidney beans

* Spaghetti squash + basil + garlic

* Spaghetti squash + basil + tomatoes

* Spaghetti squash + brown butter + hazelnuts

* Spaghetti squash + garlic + tomatoes

* Spaghetti squash + mozzarella cheese + tomatoes

* Spaghetti squash + mushrooms + onions

The following tips for cooking spaghetti squash were provided by

* If you roast spaghetti squash whole (not cut it half), make sure you poke a few holes in it with a fork for the steam to escape or you just may end up with a squash explosion to clean up!

* 1 pound of squash yields about 1-½ cups cooked spaghetti squash.

* Microwaving spaghetti squash will yield a softer “pasta” with shorter strands, while baking squash will yield more of an al dente bite to the squash with longer strands.

* Check the doneness of squash by pressing on the skin. It should give slightly when the squash is tender and cooked.

* If you don’t have a sharp knife for cutting the raw squash in half, you can pierce the squash a few times, the microwave it on high for 2 minutes. It will be easier to slice this way before roasting.

Herbs/Spices That Go Well With Spaghetti Squash
Basil, bay leaf, black pepper, cilantro, garlic, ginger, parsley, pesto, salt, rosemary, sage, soy sauce, sugar, thyme

Other Foods That Go Well With Spaghetti Squash
Proteins: Bacon, beans, eggs, lentils, pork, sausage, seafood, toasted nuts, walnuts

Dairy: Butter and browned butter, cheese, cream

Vegetables: Bok choy, broccoli, carrots, fennel, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, peppers (bell and chiles), scallions, tomatoes, zucchini

Grains: Bulgur, quinoa

Other: Oil, lemon, vinegar

Recipe Links
68 Healthy Spaghetti Squash Recipes That Are Full of Flavor

23 Spaghetti Squash Recipes That Will Make You Forget You’re Eating Veggies

Our Top Spaghetti Squash Recipes

50 Ways to Cook Spaghetti Squash

About Judi
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.


Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

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