Cucurbita pepo. Vegetable Squash, Noodle Squash, Vegetable Spaghetti, Mandarin Squash, Vegetable Marrow, or, as most people commonly call it: Spaghetti Squash. Have you ever heard of it? Did you know that there was a vegetable, much less a squash, that naturally could take the shape of a noodle without being spiralized? Have you ever cut or cooked one? Did you cook it first, or cut it raw? Were you confused when you first split one open? Did you end up with short pieces of flesh instead of long spaghetti-like strands, as the name suggests? Yeah, me too.
Here are some things I have learned that will be helpful if you decide to experiment with this versatile winter squash. It is easier and safer to heat or cook the spaghetti squash prior to cutting in order to soften the skin. To “harvest the flesh” from the skin, the easiest thing to do is “rake” it with a fork after it is cooked. The way you cut the vegetable determines the shape of the “vegetable noodle”. For long strands like spaghetti that can be swirled on the fork, the squash should be cut horizontally, either in half or into rings. For short strands that will fit easily onto a fork, the squash should be cut in half vertically, from stem to end. A way to remember is “short strands, cut long”, “long strands, cut short”. Add this squash to your favorite recipe or top it with your favorite sauce, dressing, spice blend, or gravy and enjoy the benefits of a vegetable with the satisfying feel of pasta.
Tips for Preparing Spaghetti Squash
- Using a sharp knife, cut the ends so that you have a flat surface to place on the cutting board while preparing.
- Use a knife, ice pick, or sharp kitchen tool to pierce the skin where you want to cut.
- After puncturing the skin with a sharp utensil, prior to cutting, cook or heat the squash in the microwave or oven for about 5 minutes.
- Cut or slice and remove the seeds and harvest flesh, utilize in your favorite recipe.
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