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Flavor Friday: Spaghetti Squash

Flavor Friday is a weekly column that explores trending flavors and off-the-wall ingredients you've got to try—even if just once.
I lead a carb-laden life. For this reason, I’ve been wary of trying spaghetti squash as a substitute for pasta. Recipes bopped around my Pinterest feed and friends swore by it, but I was scared. I’ve orchestrated some Pinterest-inspired disasters in my kitchen before, one being a sad crockpot rendition of a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. I knew better than to mess with something I loved again—in this case, the noodle.

Spoiler alert: I was wrong. Spaghetti squash rules.

Health’s October issue ran a squash feature that noted swapping pasta for spaghetti squash saves 179 calories and 33 grams of carbohydrates per cup. I was impressed. Then I saw the accompanying recipe photo (below), and was at the store gathering ingredients within the hour. For the record, Spaghetti Squash with Ricotta and Gremolata is a knockout of a recipe.

To prepare, cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds* with a large spoon. Similar to pumpkin, spaghetti squash is tough to cut into raw. If you're struggling, cook it in the microwave on high for 1-2 minutes to soften.

Roast: Set the squash cut side up in a baking pan, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Microwave: Set squash cut side down in a baking pan and cover with water. Cover with plastic wrap and pierce holes to vent. Cook for about 15 minutes per pound. Watch our tutorial here.

Photo: William Brinson

You know how some people find pulling weeds or power washing cathartic? That's how I feel about scraping the flesh out of spaghetti squash. Once the squash cools, take a fork and scrape the strands out until you have a full colander of what looks remarkably like angel hair pasta. It really couldn’t be easier.

Let the excess water (if any) drain for a couple of minutes, and then treat the squash exactly as you would pasta. Top with pesto, make a "pasta" salad, toss with a homemade marinara—the options are endless.

For the pasta purists, would you be willing to give spaghetti squash a try? Or better yet, pull a fast one on the kids? You won't fool anyone beyond the first bite since spaghetti squash doesn't actually taste like pasta. Sometimes though, delivering dinner from fork to mouth is an accomplishment in and of itself.

*Don't toss the seeds! They can be roasted just like pumpkin seeds. 350° for 10 minutes should do it.

Our best spaghetti squash recipes: Spaghetti Squash Gratins with Chunky Tomato Sauce Lemon-Sage Spaghetti Squash Creamy Spaghetti Squash with Asparagus and Rosemary