We don't know if it's the easy-to-make recipes, the indulgent carb-filled essence, or the versatility of the dishes that make traditional pasta so appealing. You can cook spaghetti with meatballs or bowties tossed with vegetables. You can prepare it with different cheeses, a range of sauces, and various herbs. It's just too bad that feasting on a lot of it isn't necessarily healthy.
Spaghetti squash, on the other hand, is a healthier alternative for those who want similar flavors without the forkfuls of carbohydrates. The challenge here, though, is cooking squash so that it has as close to the consistency of pasta noodles as possible.
We tested out the best way to cook spaghetti squash in the oven to give it the soft-yet-textural shape it needs to substitute for pasta noodles. Use this six-step guide to learn how to do it, and then test it out in dishes like hearty ragus, herby lasagnas, or cheesy casseroles—we also included three ideas to get you started. Then, once you've perfected this skill, you can have this alternative ready whenever your craving for pasta strikes.
How to Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Oven
Gather your materials. Aside from the squash, you'll need a knife, a spoon, a cutting board, salt, pepper, olive oil, and clean hands. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Get a sharp knife. Slicing a squash can be somewhat of a challenge, given its large size and tough exterior, but if you have a sharp knife, the process is much easier. The key is to go slowly and start by slicing the squash lengthwise. When you are about three-fourths of the way down its side, you'll begin to see the two halves separate. Either continue cutting all the way through, or use your hands to separate the two pieces.
Grab a spoon. Now that the two halves are ready to go, use a spoon to scoop out their seeds—carefully, though, since you don't want to remove too much skin the process. Once you've finished, toss the seeds or set them aside and roast them later for a healthy snack.
Drizzle on some olive oil. Transfer the halves to a baking sheet and then drizzle some olive oil on to both halves. Use your hands to make sure that the surfaces are evenly coated. After, toss a pinch of salt and pepper on both halves.
Place the halves cut-size down. Flip the squash halves over, so the cores are facing down, and place them in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on their size. They're ready if they feel tender when pierced with a fork, and if their surface is golden brown.
Shred the halves with a fork. Wait for the halves to cool a bit, and then use a fork to shred the insides into strands carefully. Spaghetti squash doesn't have as much flavor as a pasta noodle, so be sure to taste the squash before adding sauce or vegetables. It may need a pinch more salt and pepper, and maybe even some butter.
Three Recipes to Try
Why You Should Try It: Tieghan Gerard of Half Baked Harvest created this spin on traditional lasagna by using spaghetti squash as the base. She sprinkles fontina and provolone cheese into the halves, and layers a mixture of milk, oregano, pesto, and spinach inside. The "noodles" of the pasta will appear as you drag your fork across the cheesy surface.
Why You Should Try It: Tieghan Gerard of Half Baked Harvest also made this pasta dish from spaghetti squash, in which she roasts it and cauliflower florets on baking sheets, and then mixes them with a coconut fettuccine sauce. Roasted cashews give it all a delectable crunch.
Recipe: Spaghetti Squash Parmesan
Why You Should Try It: Jessica Merchant at How Sweet Eats uses plenty of traditional Italian flavors in this recipe, such as marinara sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil, and oregano. Once everything is baked and bubbly, it's topped with parmesan and more herbs.