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Spaghetti squash
Why Eat It
Shopping
Storage
Preparation


Why Eat It

Also called vegetable spaghetti, this oval-shaped yellow squash is a relative newcomer and a novel one: When cooked, the flesh of spaghetti squash can be pulled apart to form slender strands that resemble spaghetti. It has a mild taste and crisp texture, but requires more time and care to prepare than other squashes. In addition to a low calorie count--an 8-ounce serving contains only about 75 calories--spaghetti squash has a crunchy texture that makes it a particularly satisfying vegetable to eat.

Shopping

The size you buy will depend on your needs. There is no such thing as an "overgrown" sapghetti squash; and the longer the squash grows, the sweeter it will be. However, after picking, squash may be damaged by poor storage. Clues to good quality are a smooth, dry rind, free of cracks or soft spots. Moreover, the rind should be dull; a shiny rind indicates that the squash was picked too early and will not have the full sweetness of a mature specimen.

Storage

Winter squash is one of the best-keeping vegetables. Kept in a cool, dry place it should keep for about two months. Storage below 50°F (as in the refrigerator) will cause squash to deteriorate more quickly, but refrigerator storage is acceptable for a week or two.

Preparation

A spaghetti squash is always cooked whole. You can cook a whole spaghetti squash by either baking, boiling, or microwaving. Once the squash is cooked, and is cool enough to handle, halve the squash and scoop out the seeds and fibers. Then take a fork and begin to scrape at the squash flesh. As you tease it apart, the flesh will separate into pastalike strands. Continue scraping down to the shell, transferring the forkfuls of strands to a pot to keep them warm as you remove them.

Serve it with your favorite pasta or sauce or chill and toss with a light vinaigrette.

Baking: Pierce the shell several times with a fork, then place in a baking pan. Bake in a 350°F oven until the squash gives when squeezed (use a potholder). Cooking time: one hour to one hour 45 minutes.

Boiling; Pierce the squash with a fork, place in a large pot of boiling water, and simmer, covered, until tender when pricked. Cooking time: 30 to 45 minutes.

Microwaving; Although you should pierce a spaghetti squash with any cooking method, it is critical to do this when you microwave. If you don't do this, the squash will explode. Microwave the squash for six to seven minutes, then turn it over and cook another six to seven minutes. Let stand for five minutes before halving and pulling into strands.

Steaming: If you have a large steamer, you can steam spaghetti squash halves (it would take too long to cook a whole squash this way). Cut the squash in half lengthwise (not crosswise); this way you get the full spaghettilike length of the strands when you scoop them out. Place the halves, cut-side down, and steam until tender.



Date Published: 04/21/2005
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