I like to think I’m pretty well informed when it comes to healthy food options, so when my friend Nicola asked me if I’d tried spaghetti squash, I figured that we mustn’t grow it here in Australia…cos I’d never heard of it and Nicola lives in NYC so I thought it must be an American thing…but no…sadly, I must profess my ignorance of this amazing vegetable!
So I sent my husband to drive 5 minutes down the road (yes, literally!) to our local fruit and vegie market and sure enough, there it was. "Heaps of them" my husband said. How have I missed this?
So I’ve checked it all out and this is a truly interesting veggie. It’s a member of the same family as pumpkin, and it has the most incredible texture…you know, like spaghetti!
Nutritionally speaking, it’s a great alternative to white pasta as it is very low in carbohydrate, and low in energy at 176 kJ (42 calories) per cup vs 1412kJ (338 calories) per cup of cooked white pasta. I triple checked this as I couldn’t believe what I was seeing here!
(As you may have noticed, I don’t talk about kilojoules and calories a lot, as I believe in eating food for it’s nutritional value, rather than counting calories. However, I also operate in the real world and for people who have a weight loss goal, finding a tasty and nutritional substitute for white pasta, noodles and rice is very useful.)
Spaghetti squash is also a good source of potassium, fibre, niacin (Vitamin B3), Vitamin B6, manganese and Vitamin C.
Taste wise – it’s delicious. Although go into it with the mindset that it’s NOT spaghetti, because it isn't and it has a different taste and texture to pasta. It has a lovely sweet and delicate flavour that is ideal for Italian sauces, and I think it’ll work really well as a substitute for Asian noodles as well.
This is a great way to add an extra veggie on your plate, while complementing a strong flavoured source like a bolognese or napoli (I used the tomato based sauce from my Amazing Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Pasta recipe in the picture above), or Asian curries or stir fries.
I cooked it in the microwave, and you can roast it in the oven as well if you prefer.
Here’s how I cooked it:
Cut your spaghetti squash in half. This can be lengthways or widthways. The spaghetti will be in longer strands if you do it widthways because of the way it’s curled up inside the vegetable. Also, it will be too big for most microwaves to fit the whole squash in lengthways.
Prick it all over with sharp knife, to prevent it exploding. The risk of this happening is lessened by cutting it in half.
Place it cut side down in a microwave proof dish and add a couple of centimetres (1 inch) of water to it to prevent it from drying out. My squash soaked up all this water and it became beautifully moist.
Microwave it on high for 5 minutes and then check it by gently stabbing it with a skewer or sharp knife. Continue this process until the skewer or sharp knife goes into the squash easily. Mine took 25 minutes to cook in total.