I am not anti carbs or anti pasta by any means, but sometimes you need a nice satisfying lower carb meal option. Especially this time of year when there is an overabundance of carb rich food everywhere you look. That is where spaghetti squash comes in. In can be a great replacement for traditional noodles.
Let’s keep something straight though, spaghetti squash does not taste exactly like noodles. It has a little (non offensive) vegetal taste and it has a little more crunch to it then traditional noodles. Don’t get me wrong it is still delicious. I just don’t want anyone to make it and expect it to taste like regular wheat noodles and be disappointed.
One cup of spaghetti squash has only 42 calories and 10 grams of carbohydrates compared to once cup of traditional cooked noodles that have 221 calories and 43 grams of carbohydrates. Making spaghetti squash a great substitute when you are trying to lower the overall calorie or carb amount of your meal (or you would rather get all those calories/carbs from somewhere else).
When it comes to cooking the squash there are many different ways you can do it. You can roast it in the oven, put it in the slow cooker or microwave it. Microwaving is my personal favorite. It is quick and it makes cutting it easy. No more failing around the kitchen with it stuck to end of your knife while you slam it on the counter. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who has done that?!)
When you microwave it, make sure you stab it all over with a fork. That will release the steam and prevent it from becoming a bomb in your microwave. For a 2 ½ pound squash, it will need to cook for about 14 minutes. Turning over halfway through. If your squash is larger it will need more time. It is done when the outer skin is soft and easily pierced. After that, DO NOT take it out of the microwave. Leave it in there, for another 10 minutes. It will continue to steam on the inside. (This is a great time to prep the rest of your meal.)
Once the 10 minutes is up, carefully remove the squash, it will still be hot. Cut it in half width wise, not length wise like you have always been told! When you cut it width wise you get nice long noodles, not the 2 inch ones. Gently scrape out the seeds and any loose pulp. Since it is already cooked, you will not have to put too much man power into this. Using a fork, gently pull the flesh out into a bowl and separate into strands.
If you don’t want to microwave it, you can cook it in the oven. Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds and place in a pan cut side down. Place a small amount of water around the squash and bake at 400 for 35-45 mins. Alternatively, you can cook it in your slow cooker too. I have, however, yet to try this method. You need to pierce it all over with a fork and place whole in your slow cooker on low for 6-8 hrs. It’s is done when it can be easily pierced with a knife.
Just about anything you can do with regular noodles you can do with spaghetti squash. However, I prefer something lighter, like garlic, olive oil with shrimp. In this recipe I used precook frozen shrimp because that it what I had on hand. You also could sub out precooked chicken breast.
Garlic Lemon Shrimp on top of Spaghetti Squash with Garlic and Olive Oil.
For the squash:
2 ½ pound spaghetti squash
2 Tb Olive oil
2 cloves Garlic, minced
¼ cup shredded parmesan
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp kosher salt
For the Shrimp:
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tb Olive oil
1.4 cup fresh lemon juice
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 ¼ precooked, defrosted peeled and deveined shrimp.
- Prick the squash all over with a fork. And microwave for 6 minutes. Turnover and microwave for another 8 minutes. Let continue to steam in microwave for another 10 minutes.
- While squash is cooking make the shrimp. Place garlic and oil in a large skillet and cook over medium heat for 1 minute. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper. Toss with Shrimp (or precooked chicken) and set aside.
- When squash is done steaming, remove from microwave. Cut in half width wise and remove seeds. Using a fork pull out the flesh and separate into strands.
- In the same skillet used to cook the shrimp heat the olive oil. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Careful not to burn the garlic.
- Add red pepper flakes (If make this for kids, you may want to omit this step. And top individually with red pepper) cook for 1 more minute.
- Add cooked squash and toss. Season with salt and parmesan.
- Toss in prepared shrimp. And serve.
Nutritional info for 5 shrimp and 1/4 the spaghetti squash
Calories: 297 Fat:13 Carbs:20 Pro:24
Adapted from Spaghetti Squash in Gina Homolka’s Skinnytaste Fast and Slow Cookbook.