(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on January 31, 2010. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware this author has passed away and cannot respond to your questions.)
A world of fun and unusual plants is waiting to be discovered. Over 20 years ago, my sister Linda brought home a spaghetti squash. Frankly, I thought she was a bit crazy. "Right, you are going to get spaghetti from a squash," I thought. To my surprise, she really did make a wonderful pot of "pasta" and I've been intrigued by it ever since.
According to PlantFiles, there are many varieties of spaghetti squash. It is from the Cucurbitaceae (gourd) family and the genus Cucurbita along with other pumpkins and gourds. I am not surprised; the skin is as hard and tough as any dried gourd!
According to Wikipedia, "spaghetti squash contains many nutrients including folic acid, potassium, vitamin A, and beta carotene. It is low in calories, averaging 42 calories per 1-cup (155 grams) serving." I found during other research, that a high percentage of the calories are sugar calories.
Some people are disappointed in the taste of this squash, finding it a bit bland and tasteless, but a nice, strong herb sauce will take care of that problem quickly. After all, other pastas and rice are also bland until they are seasoned. This vegetable is not a squash to enjoy on its own like some other squashes; it should be eaten like pasta or oriental vegetables. I think it tastes good with butter and spices or with a sauce.
I decided to purchase and cook a squash for this article. However, I don't like to use a microwave, so I baked the squash. I also do not like to heat up my oven for just one thing, so I cooked a pumpkin, a butternut squash and the spaghetti squash together.
First, I washed each vegetable. Then, I sprayed each one with white vinegar and rinsed it. We keep a spray bottle of white vinegar in the kitchen to help keep germs away. Next, I cut each squash in half. I started with the spaghetti squash; it was difficult to cut. The other squash were easy after working with the spaghetti squash. I would advise you to remove all pets and other people from the kitchen when you cut through this squash. The skin is thin but very hard and brittle.
The skin is thin but oh, so tough!
Next, I spooned all of the seeds out. I spread the seeds out on a paper towel to dry. The picture below shows the seeds still a bit too close together; I will spread them out more and remove the strands tomorrow, before the strands mold. The spaghetti squash seeds are to the left of the spoon. For the sake of size comparison, I put some of each seed on the paper towel. The pumpkin seeds are directly to the right of the spoon and the butternut seeds are the smallest, to the far right.
I placed the cut part of the squash upside down on a cookie tray and baked it at 350 degrees for about one hour. The first picture below is of the squash, prior to cooking. The second picture is the squash after I took it out of the oven and pulled the squash away from the skin with two forks. (Note: The squash can be cut and microwaved for 5 minutes at a time, until done; it is done when a table knife is easily inserted. However, the outside skin may still be tough. The squash can be boiled also, but some nutrients will be lost in the water.)
Uncooked squash looks like any other squash.
While the squash cooked, I prepared a sauce. Dinner was served and we were ready to enjoy a wonderful, fun feast just as soon as I finished writing this article.
Close-up of Spaghetti Squash.
Pasta sauce with basil is bubbling and ready to enjoy!
I hope you enjoy eating spaghetti squash as much as we do. It will help for you to know what to expect: spaghetti squash is watery and will thin down any sauce that you put on it. It also has a different texture and has shorter "strands" compared to regular pasta spaghetti. This squash made three servings that each filled a large dinner plate. I did not make any vegetables or garlic bread to go with dinner since I was finishing up this article and cooking supper at the same time.
Supper is served!
Spaghetti squash is reportedly quite easy to grow. It has both male and female flowers on the same plant (monoecious). It grows like most any other squash plant; likes warm weather and sunshine with plenty of water. Spaghetti squash plants are also bothered by the same pests as regular squash. Remember, squash plants do not like to be transplanted, so be very careful. I plan to winter sow the seeds in a container that can just be set into the ground. I may plant some in containers to see how that works for these plants. Remember, these squash are heavy. You will need to support the vines and the squash once they begin to grow large.
I happen to have a Territorial Seed Company catalog in front of me now. They sell two varities, a large one like I have pictured here and a single-serving size squash. Many other companies also carry these seeds. You'll have fun browsing through Dave's Garden PlantScout. Just be sure to always check out the Garden Watchdog before you order any seeds or plants. You will be able to purchase with more information--and information is power.
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