It was about 4 years ago that I decided to give spaghetti squash a fair assessment. Now it wasn’t the first time I encountered it but it was the first time I actually ate it. It had to be in the late 90’s when I was working in a place I affectionately refer to as HELL. I hated the job and the company. The people were awesome and to this day one of those folks I met there is one of my best friends. It was one particular day at lunch when a co-worker who was always trying the latest diet out there brought in spaghetti squash ‘pasta’. I refused to even try it because I was ‘uber picky’, an idiot cause this stuff is amazing and it wasn’t ‘real’ pasta.
She heated it up and sure it looked like a plate of spaghetti but it wasn’t “real” pasta. So I turned up my nose, politely, and ate something ‘real’.
Up to about 4 years ago pasta was never an issue for me. I mean marrying into an Italian family you had to not only eat pasta but love it. Sunday gravy had to run in your veins and you had to make pasta at least once a week. Heck you had to go as far as have pasta for the main dish and spaghetti as the side! Yes, pasta and spaghetti are two very different things. Trust me, I learned that real fast marrying into this family!
Eating it was never really a problem until one day I had some… and got sick. I thought it was just me, maybe a bug or what not. And then the next time I ate it, same thing. My stomach would kill me to the point I was sick as a dog and it would just hurt so bad. I gave it a third shot and yep, sick again. Now I didn’t have gluten allergies as I could eat other foods with gluten in it. Trust me, I would die if I couldn’t eat bread or GASP.. pizza! OMG my life would have seriously been over.
No really, you guys have no clue how much I LOVE pizza! Like it’s my ‘if I were stranded on a desert island’ food.
For the first few weeks when I’d make him pasta or spaghetti I’d just have a small bowl of hot Sunday gravy topped with some cheese and some crusty bread. However, as delicious as that was, it wasn’t really ‘enough’. I so badly missed pasta – the texture, the taste, the slurping the noodles and having the sauce hit my chin. It just so happened that the next day was grocery shopping day. As I was pushing my buggy around I spied a spaghetti squash and instantly remembered my girlfriend talking about how you could use that in place of noodles.
Now that my taste buds had matured and I was more adventurous with my foods I decided to give it a try.
Thankfully there was a sticker on the squash to tell me how to actually make it as I had no clue. Now one thing I did find is that you can’t really split these in half equally. Well you could if the stem is removed prior but then at that point you need to question if the squash is any good to being with. See my post on how to pick a winter squash to avoid picking a bad one. Once it was cut in half it pretty much looked like any other squash. There were seeds and ‘guts’ or that stringy fleshy part that is icky and gets all over your hands.
Into the oven they went, face down in a pan that had just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. The steam helps cook the squash faster and makes the flesh more tender. Once they were done, the inside looked so cool! It looked like little bitty noodles. I went to pull them out and just about burnt the skin off of my fingers. Yeah no, grab a fork dingdong! LOL
My first time ‘shredding’ the squash I just poked a fork in and raked down to the middle. I got a bajillion little ‘noodles’ but no real noodles the size of spaghetti. I didn’t learn that trick until a few years later.
When I was all done shredding it I ended up with a ton of ‘noodles’. I mean A LOT! I then grabbed a few noodles and tossed them into my mouth… and waited. Waited for what you ask? The ‘ick’ factor. Wha? I still have that picky 7-year-old-girl inside me that squinched up her face at EVERYTHING. But no squinching occurred. Honestly, they tasted like….
nothing. Seriously plain spaghetti squash noodles have no taste. Which honestly is perfect! They add texture (and nutrients) to a dish without lending any real intense flavor.
So into a pasta bowl some ‘noodles’ went then I topped it with some Sunday gravy, a few heaping tablespoons of pecorino cheese, some minced basil and sat down to eat. At that time Mr. Fantabulous and gave me a look. It was one of those he was going to speak before thinking however he caught himself. His mouth opened, he barely got out a sound and then stopped. He stood there puzzled staring at my bowl. It wasn’t ‘normal’ looking but it did resemble pasta.
I actually rendered this man speechless!
… for 5 seconds <sigh>
He said “Um, what is that? You shouldn’t eat pasta baby. It just makes you sick and you end up wasting it.” Wait.. I don’t “waste” it on purpose. It hates me but I love the taste. I explained what it was and OMG you would have thought I insulted everything Italian ever. I mean we’re talking total blasphemy here. I thought he was going to call Mama Fantabulous on me!
Now mind you, I still hadn’t even taken a bite yet so I wasn’t sure if I’d even like it but being the good wife I offered him a bite first. OMG… he actually scoffed at me like I insulted him and called him Baby Ugly! LOL So I shrugged, dug my fork in and took a big bite.
I could feel him glaring at me, praying it was nasty but honestly, it was good. No, it was really, REALLY good!
After that I kept spaghetti squash a staple in my diet. Sure I’ll try regular pasta and spaghetti now and then. It’s pretty hit and miss when it comes to my ability to actually eat it and it not kill my stomach. Mr. Fantabulous really doesn’t like it but he’ll ‘tolerate’ it when I make it in a new recipe but he won’t eat it as a real meal. Oh no, that’s illegal or something.
What’s funny is the one day I was talking with Mama Fantabulous and we were talking about squash and I told her that I loved the stuff. She admitted she loved it too and would use it in the place of noodles from time to time. OMG when Mr. Fantabulous heard this the look of utter horror was PRICELESS.
I swear if his Nonna was still alive he would have told on her. LOL
I strongly recommend incorporating spaghetti squash in your diet. It’s super healthy and totally delicious! Some of the health benefits are:
→ One cup of cooked spaghetti squash only has 42 calories, compared to a cup of cooked pasta with over 200 calories. It only has 10 grams of total carbs, which is 1/4 the amount you get from pasta.
→ This versatile squash contains vitamin A and vitamin C, which can help prevent free radical damage to cells. Spaghetti squash is also rich in the B vitamins riboflavin, niacin, and thiamin.
→ Spaghetti squash contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to help prevent heart diseases, inflammation, arthritis and different types of cancers.
→ The American Heart Association says consuming fiber on a regular basis improves health by reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and lowering cholesterol. Spaghetti squash contains a fair amount of fiber, with 2.2 g, or 9 percent of the RDI, per 1-cup serving. Fiber may also help in weight reduction as it makes you feel fuller longer.
- 3lb spaghetti squash
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Using a sharp butcher knife, cut the squash in half lengthways.
- Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and stringy flesh in the middle.
- Place the squash, cut side down in a roasting pan.
- Add enough water to just cover the bottom of the pan.
- Cook for 30-45 minutes or until the squash is fork tender and the flesh separates like spaghetti strands.
- Remove the pan from the oven and place the squash on a plate, cut side up to cool until you can handle without getting burned,
- To make the spaghetti strands, use a fork to gently pull the squash flesh from the peel and to separate the flesh into strands.
- Since the strands wrap around the squash horizontally use your fork as a rake and go around the inside of the squash to make the longest ‘noodles’.