Last week we discussed Butternut Squash – one of the popular winter squashes that have arrived at the Visalia Farmers Market for Fall. Now we’re going to go over another favorite winter squash that has quite the fan following – Spaghetti Squash! We’ll go over how to buy it, store it, and cook it!
Averaging from four to eight pounds, the cylinder-shaped spaghetti squash has a peak season from early fall through winter. A dieter’s dream, a four-ounce serving of spaghetti squash has only 37 calories and is a great pasta alternative (as the name implies)!
Spaghetti squash has a high water content and is not as dense in vitamins and minerals as other winter squash, such as acorn or butternut, but it does provide 3 percent of the Daily Value for calcium, 5 percent for Vitamin A, 9 percent for Vitamin C and 8 percent for dietary fiber.
Spaghetti squash also supplies modest amounts of carotenoids, plant substances that the body turns into Vitamin A and that may help protect against some diseases.
But the biggest health benefit would have to be the omega-3 essential fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids it boasts. While the former is good for preventing heart disease, cancer and inflammation caused by arthritis, the latter promotes brain function. It contains various vitamins and minerals, which are required for proper functioning of the body!
Buying and Storing
When buying spaghetti squash at the Market, look for hard fruit that is heavy for its size, with a pale even color. Avoid any squash with soft spots, and keep in mind that green color is a sign of immaturity. The average four-pound spaghetti squash will yield about five cups of “spaghetti”!
Spaghetti squash can be stored at room temperature for up to three months, but if kept in cooler temperatures it can last even longer. After cutting, you can wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to two days. Spaghetti squash also freezes well! Pack cooked squash into freezer bags, seal, label and freeze. Partially thaw before re-using, then steam until tender but still firm – about five minutes. A perfect, healthy, low calorie meal on the go!
How to Cook Spaghetti Squash
Bake It — Pierce the whole shell several times with a large fork or skewer and place in baking dish. Cook squash in preheated 375 degrees until the flesh is tender – anywhere from 15 minutes to one hour, depending on your preferred style of noodle. (I like mind super firm and al dente, so I only bake for 15-30 minutes!)
Boil It — Heat a pot of water large enough to hold the whole squash. When the water is boiling, drop in the squash and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on its size. When a fork goes easily into the flesh, the squash is done!
Slow Cooker or Crock-Pot — Choose a smaller spaghetti squash (unless you have an extra-large slow cooker!) so that it will fit. Add 2 cups of water to slow cooker. Pierce the whole shell several times with a large fork or skewer, add to Crock-Pot, cover and cook on low for 8 to 9 hours.
Eat it Raw – Cut open your squash, scoop out the seeds, and use a little elbow grease to scrape out the squash with a fork. You won’t get as much out as you normally would with a cooked squash, but you should get enough for a meal or two!
Look for this fun seasonal squash at the Visalia Farmers Markets this fall and winter, and let us know how YOU like preparing your Spaghetti Squash!