Here is another idea for a Meat Free Monday, it’s squash time! Let’s put more veggies into your meals with this veggie disguise as Pasta. This Spaghetti Squash Kale and Tomato taste like a rice noodles to me. Just add chicken for protein and your lunch or dinner is solved! This was inspired by my Baked Four Cheese and Garlic Spaghetti Squash post which turned out so well, so I thought why not another one. Variation is always good to make good more interesting and fun to eat. Let’s get started!
How to Cook Spaghetti Squash
The most difficult part of using spaghetti squash is the cutting part because the squash is quite hard. I almost gave up on it, but then with few small tricks, it made the process easier. There are 2 ways that you can do it, here are your options of cooking the spaghetti squash
If you are in a hurry, this is the fastest and easiest way to cut open and cook the spaghetti squash. First, you need to poke holes around the squash to allow the steam to come out, this is very important. Microwave it, start with 5 minutes for medium size squash (about 1 -2 lbs). The length of time depends on how big your squash is, adjust in 2 minutes increments. To test if it is done, simply push a sharp knife in the center, if the knife pass through end to end with no effort at all, then it is done. You can start cutting it into half, drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with salt and spices of your choice.
In this method, you have to cut the Spaghetti Squash in half before roasting it in the oven. Use the microwave to slightly soften the skin for easier cutting. About 4 minutes for medium size Squash. Trim one end so that it can easily stand when you cut it in half. Remove the seeds and sprinkle with olive oil and spices of your choice. Finish the cooking in the oven by baking/roasting it at 350F for about 35 – 40 minutes. Let cool until manageable to handle, then cut into half and scrape the inside. You can now use it in any spaghetti squash recipe, flavor it as desired. Although this takes longer than straight forward microwave only method, I find that roasting the squash produces better flavor. The squash have ample time to absorb the flavor of the oil, seasoning and spices as it roast in the oven. I also like how it gave a slight browning, it brings out the sweetness and the depth of flavor. So I encourage you to roast your spaghetti squash, unless you are in a tight schedule then go ahead and microwave it. Just like the microwave only method, the length of time also depends on the size of the squash. The ideal size for me is about 1 – 3 lbs, often times i stick to 1-2 lbs if it is just for me.
Do NOT Over Cook
Important thing to remember, regardless which method you decide to use, do NOT over cook the squash. You don’t want a mushy spaghetti squash and you do not want to destroy the trademark of spaghetti squash which is the lovely noodles like strand. Make it aldente just like when you cook your pasta, trust me, it makes a huge difference. Making use of spaghetti squash is all about texture, mushy spaghetti squash is a No. No.
How to Cut Spaghetti Squash
Oven Method: How to Cut and Prepare Spaghetti Squash
- Pre-heat oven to 350F.
- Microwave the Squash: Poke holes all over the squash with a fork or a knife, then microwave for 4minutes. The squash that I used is 2.5 lb, increase the time as needed if your squash is bigger. The idea is not to cook the squash, but to soften the skin of the squash a little bit for easier cutting. Remove from the microwave and let cool.
- Cut the Squash into Half. Start by trimming one of the the hard end of the squash. This will help the squash to be in an upright position while you cut it in half. Using a sharp knife, mark a line on the squash (this is called scoring), this will serve as a mark that you can follow. Cut the squash into half, following the line that you have created. Remove the seeds and clean the center.
- Spice it Up: Drizzle olive oil and brush all throughout the squash. Sprinkle with salt and pepper or any of your favorite spice.
- Bake for 35 – 40 minutes. The bigger the squash, the longer baking time you need. Check it 30 minutes mark to see if the center is already soft but not mushy. You don’t want to over bake it as you will end up with a mushy squash and the strand of the squash will be deformed. Remove from the oven and let cool until you can handle it.
- Remove the Squash “Meat”: Using a fork, gently scrape the squash. If you cook it right, it should come off easily without any effort. Transfer in a bowl and let cool before covering and storing in the refrigerator, otherwise use as per your recipe.
How to Use Spaghetti Squash?
Spaghetti squash can be used in variety of ways. You can used it as a replacement for pasta, I guess that’s the main idea of spaghetti squash. It goes well with white and cream based sauce, or just plain butter and garlic with herbs and spices. You can also use it as side dish to meat like Chicken, Beef, Lamb and even Fish. For this post, I made 4 Cheese and Garlic Spaghetti Squash. Check it out!
- 1–2 lbs Spaghetti Squash – prepared as per instructions above
- 1/2 cup Kale – cut into small pieces (can also be substituted with Spinach)
- 1/4 cup Cherry Tomato or Sun-Dried Tomato
- 1 clove Garlic
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp Balsamic Vinaigrette – optional
- 1/4 tsp Chili Flakes
Make it Kale, Tomato and Chicken Spaghetti Squash:
- 1/2 cup diced Chicken Breast – sautéed and cooked
- Prepare the spaghetti squash as per instructions above.
- If you are making it with chicken: Saute chicken in olive oil until cook through. Set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the garlic. Saute until garlic is slightly brown. Add chopped kale. Cover and cook until kale has wilted, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add cherry tomatoes or sun-dried tomatoes, spaghetti squash, salt and pepper, and chicken (if using). Continue cooking and stirring until all of the ingredients are well-combined and heated through.Do not over cook to avoid getting the squash mushy.
- Add balsamic vinaigrette (optional).
- Meat Free Monday: Small Batch Baked Butternut Squash Spaghetti Casserole
- Meat Free Monday: Enjoy Spaghetti Squash Mushroom Alfredo with Less Guilt
- How to Cut and Prepare Spaghetti Squash
- Meat Free Monday: Spaghetti Squash with Kale and Tomato
- Baked Four Cheese Garlic Spaghetti Squash
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