Thursday, July 13, 2006

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash as a Summer Squash


The weekend is approaching, which means time to start thinking about Weekend Herb Blogging. Earlier this week I wrote about some rules for Weekend Herb Blogging, so if you might like to participate, check them out. Thanks to all the herb bloggers who've written to express support for the rules.

This time I'm writing about one of my very favorite summer vegetables, spaghetti squash, so it's luckily for me that WHB can be about any type of herb, vegetable, plant, or flower. I learned from Wikipedia that spaghetti squash is also called vegetable spaghetti, vegetable marrow, noodle squash or squaghetti. Squash is something I'll be eating a lot of over the next few months as my garden starts to produce it in copious amounts.

Squashes are divided into winter squash (which ripen late in the season, can be stored through the winter, have hard outer rinds, and must be eaten cooked) and summer squash (which can be eaten rind, seeds, and all, and which can be eaten raw.) I like every type of squash, but in my garden I mainly grow summer squash since the winter squashes produce huge vines and take a lot of space. Winter squash is something I'll be buying from the Salt Lake Farmer's Market later in the season.

Many years ago I was introduced to spaghetti squash by a former boyfriend who grew it in his garden. He taught me to prepare it as a summer squash, picking the squashes when they were young and green, then simply boiling them and serving as a vegetable with lots of butter, salt, and pepper. It wasn't until quite a few years later that I learned that most people treat spaghetti squash as a winter squash. If you leave them on the vine until the skins turn yellow, then bake or microwave the squash, the strands pull apart into a kind of vegetable "spaghetti" which is delicious, and is often used as a great low calorie, low carb, and gluten-free substitute for regular pasta.

I like spaghetti squash as a winter squash, but I am absolutely crazy about spaghetti squash when it's cooked as a summer squash. Everyone in my family has been eating it this way for years. When I cooked some of this year's very first garden spaghetti squash for these photos, I decided the flavor was slightly reminiscent of very young corn, kind of a sweet, very mild flavor that is really delicious. Of course, you'll never be able to find young spagetti squash like this in a regular store, so you'll probably have to grow some in your garden if you want to try this recipe. Trust me, it will be worth it.

Spaghetti Squash Cooked as a Summer Squash

Allow about 1/2 to 1 small spagetti squash per person.

Pick the spagetti squash when they are 4-6 inches long with a skin that is still very light green. One way to test whether the squash is still young enough to be prepared this way is whether your fingernail can easily pierce the skin. If not, leave that squash on the vine to ripen into a winter squash.

Wash the outside of the squash very well, since you'll be eating the skin. Cut off the stem and blossom end and cut the rest of the squash up into pieces about 2 inches square.

Cover squash with water and boil 10-15 minutes, or until it is easily pierced with a fork. It should be soft, but not mushy. Be careful not to overcook.

Put cooked squash into large colander and let it drain well, for 5 minutes or more. It's important not to rush the draining time, because there's a lot of moisture in the young squash.

After squash has drained about 5 minutes, use a potato masher to coarsely mash the squash and let drain 2-3 minutes more. (Sometimes I put it back in the pan and cook off some of the liquid.)

Serve hot, with plenty of butter and salt and freshly ground pepper. I love to use Vege-Sal, a blend of salt and veggies that I think tastes wonderful on cooked vegetables.

9 comments:

Glenna said...

I learn something new every day. I've love spaghetti squash but had no idea you could eat the whole thing if it's picked young enough. Looks delicious!

Mona said...

wow kalyn, never knew the difference. i've been enlightened, thanks for the info and the eye candy!
:) hope you're doing well. it's been a while. i'm such a slacker!

Jennifer said...

So good to know! I am always running out of ideas for what to do with the ever-plentiful squash. Thanks, Kalyn!

christine said...

This is something I didn't know. Thanks for the information and the recipe - it looks so good! I'll ask around at our farmers market to see if I can find some.

Kalyn said...

Glenna, I don't think many people know about this.

Mona, I missed you. Glad you're back!

Jennifer, I know what you mean. They seem to multiply very quickly don't they!

Christine, you might be able to get a farmer to pick them early for you, but I haven't ever seen the young squash in the store.

sher said...

I also have never seen spaghetti squash fixed this way! It tastes like young corn? OK, I'm going to buy one and cook it just like your recipe. Thanks.

Kalyn said...

Sher, I hope you can find some green ones. Maybe I can mail you one??

gattina said...

Kayln,
your spagetti squash looks so beautiful! Just adding butter sounds great!

Maude said...

It looks amazing! I've replaced the usual pasta and rice with spaghetti squash, it works great! :)

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