Paula Hughes is the founder and main editor of Chew the World. The following is an excerpt from one of her articles and is reprinted here with her permission. Find the full article and assorted spaghetti squash recipes here.
The Definite Guide To Perfect Spaghetti Squash
Have you noticed that switching conventional foods with healthy replacements is back on the radar these days? It’s always good to revamp your recipes and use new and exciting ingredients to improve them. In the spirit of the holidays and the healthy replacement trend, I’m covering an interesting topic for you today – the spaghetti squash.
Whether you’re a fan of the delightful squash (yeah, I’ve said it), or you’re a complete stranger to the concept, I think I can provoke some interest in you.
At first, there were spaghetti - long, silky-smooth, tasty, and enchanting. We all got hooked and enjoyed them in dozens of ways. This excellent pasta was (and still is) among the top three meals for everyone in the world; it was really that good.
Then, the public got aware about the harmful effects of consuming (too much) spaghetti and classified it as a “bad” food. Then the revolution slowly started; it turned out there are ways to replace the spaghetti with healthy vegetables, and spaghetti squash is one of the best to replicate that taste and structure.
Today we’re going all in on spaghetti squash; I’ll teach you everything you could ever want to know about this healthy replacement and more. Get ready, you might even ditch regular spaghetti for good.
Does Spaghetti Squash Really Taste Like Spaghetti?
The guy (or woman) who found out that the inside “meat” of the squash forms into threads that look like spaghetti when processed by heat really had an epiphany - the squash spaghetti strands really resemble the popular pasta in looks. But what about the taste?
The regular spaghetti is familiar to everyone; the standard pasta taste that comes from starch and provides the soft sensation (or mild stiff one if cooked al dente) we’re all used to. Depending on the way you make it, spaghetti (or any type of pasta) can taste sour, sweet, and salty.
There are dozens of recipes online claiming that you’ll have the perfect resemblance to the regular pasta if you cook it their way. The real truth is that no matter you how you cook it, spaghetti squash won’t taste as regular spaghetti.
It will be definitely close, by means of structure and looks, but the taste is different. Squash threads roll around the fork greatly and mix with the sauces superb, but their flavor is too mild compared to regular spaghetti. Therefore, it requires more spices than regular spaghetti to get the taste similarity.
It tastes the best with heavy creams or used in stews and curry, because its taste won’t alter the meal’s overall taste, but will impact the structure and nutritional values significantly. Still tasty and healthier than regular ones. Amazing.
Ways to Cook Spaghetti Squash
There are a few different methods for preparing spaghetti squash; microwaving it, roasting it in the oven, and cooking it in a slow cooker. Each of these ways requires different tools, takes different amounts of time to prepare, and produces different results. Every way has its pros and cons, and it is up to you to choose which one suits you the best. Find detailed instructions for each method here. http://chewtheworld.com/how-to-make-spaghetti-squash
Correcting Common Problems
To go further into making spaghetti squash, I’ve looked for some common problems you guys might have during the preparation of this meal. There seem to be several issues that bother an average person trying to cook spaghetti squash, and I’ve summarized them in the five most common ones, and here’re their best solutions:
1. Spaghetti squash did not come out soft, but overly crunchy.
First of all, spaghetti squash is meant to be slightly crispy but not as much to be described as hard or crude. The common culprit is trying to cook spaghetti squash as a whole. They are too thick, and you basically have them raw in the middle (that’s where the crudeness comes from).
The trick is to cut them in half across the length thus letting the heat go in deeper. There is a way to cook them whole either in an oven or in a microwave.
The difference being that when cooking in the oven you don’t poke holes whereas microwaving requires holes so that the steam can get out. However, no matter the technique, spaghetti squash will come out thicker and harder if you cook them whole.
2. Undercooked spaghetti
If you have already cooked, shredded and prepared your favorite spaghetti squash but it still feels undercooked there are certain things you can do to fix this.
The simplest way to give them a bit more cooking is to microwave them for a minute, give it a bit of a stir, and try them again. Repeat the process if needed.
Another way is to steam your spaghetti squash. Use paper towels to cover the plate completely and set your microwave to a higher setting (not the highest) for approximately two minutes. Check if it has become soft and repeat the process if it feels necessary.
3. Spaghetti squash turned up to be mushy
You will notice this problem after you’ve done cooking spaghetti squash and you try to shred it. You won’t be getting the stripes that earned this vegetable the nickname spaghetti, but instead you’ll have a mushy mess that will simply spoil the dish.
The most probable reason is that when you were cooking spaghetti squash (in a pan, dipped in a bit of water), you had the flesh side facing downwards. This caused the meat to overcook, and you’ve got yourself a mushy mess. Remember, flesh side up and you shouldn’t be having this problem.
4. How can I make a spaghetti squash easier to cut?
Spaghetti squash can be tough to cut especially if your knives are not perfect (mainly if you want to cut them lengthwise while it is still raw). Toughness indicates the level of ripeness with tougher ones being a bit green. However, spaghetti squash can be difficult to cut even if it is a perfect specimen.
To make the cutting easier, poke a fork through the skin of the spaghetti squash and microwave it for 5 minutes. It should soften it up so you can easily cut it, just be careful as it can be really hot. You can then proceed to cook it any way you wanted in the first place.
5. Is it okay to reheat spaghetti squash?
Spaghetti squash is perfectly safe to reheat, and in most recipes, the meal does not lose any of its taste or nutrient value.
The safest way is to use a microwave on medium setting. Do not use higher settings as it might start cooking it again and making your spaghetti squash mushy and too soft.
Two minutes should be enough on medium settings, but you will, of course, check for yourself. The goal is not to cook it again, but to bring it back to serving temperature so keep that in mind regarding how hot it needs to be.