The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


November 14, 2012

Amanda Stone: Spaghetti squash has surprising versatility

JOPLIN, Mo. — I'm compelled to write about spaghetti squash. I can't help myself. I'm such a big fan. It's a sneaky piece of produce, and I really like that.  

When roasted, spaghetti squash looks just like spaghetti. I love it. Like its winter squash siblings, you just have to split it in half, scoop out the seeds and roast it for about an hour. After it has cooled, scrape the flesh with a fork and it falls out in long strands like spaghetti. Truly amazing. The strands are firmer than pasta, and the color is yellow rather than brown like a whole-grain noodle. Once covered with sauce, it does the job if you're willing to pretend.

When it comes to comparing spaghetti squash to whole-grain spaghetti noodles, it depends on what you're looking for. Both are good for you. If you are watching calories or your carbohydrate intake, spaghetti squash is definitely the way to go because it has far fewer calories. But if you are concerned that you're not getting enough protein, then you would want to go with the protein-packed whole-grain noodles. Because I love all things carbohydrate, I don't need to be concerned with not having enough starch in my diet. Therefore, spaghetti squash is a great alternative to the real thing. If you're having protein through another source in the meal, such as cheese or meat in the sauce or side dish, then go for spaghetti squash. It's a great way to sneak in a vegetable serving. As a bonus, you could have a whole-grain roll with your meal without breaking the carbohydrate bank. I love any excuse to add bread to a meal. Warm. With butter.

Winter squash holds a special place in my heart because of its shelf life.  Unlike its similarly hard-shelled watermelon cousin, spaghetti squash can sit around for months in a cool, dry place. Don't try that with a watermelon. See my "fermented watermelon explosion" column. I love stocking up on spaghetti squash in the fall and finding a surprise stray hanging out with the potatoes in the back of the cabinet in spring. Such a treat.

If replacing your pasta with squash is outside of your comfort zone, try mixing the two. That way you get the vitamins and veggie power from the squash, but you have the comfort of knowing your old pal spaghetti is still with you. Try my favorite recipes for spaghetti squash, or serve it with your favorite pasta sauce.

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