I am such a hypocrite. Here I am writing a post about this wonderful and healthy vegetable, Spaghetti Squash, and guess what I am munching on? Chocolate chips. I just can’t keep them in my house. They don’t last. Its my new rule (starting… tomorrow). No buying chocolate chips until right before I need to bake with them. No stocking up when there is a sale. It’s a problem, people. But, oh, how I wish I had a big cold glass of milk to go with them.
Ok, moving on to healthier things. Spaghetti squash. I know, I know. It’s a winter vegetable and winter is behind us! Well, I just looked at the weather and the high in Columbus tomorrow is a whopping 38 degrees F. with a 60% chance of snow. I also went sledding and cross country skiing in Houghton, Michigan for spring break. (I have never seen so much snow in my life, and I grew up in Rexburg, Idaho!) And I just watched Frozen for the first time. I have also been drinking apple cider all week because I have had a sore throat and I still have a ridiculously high heat bill. So, forgive me if I am still in winter mode. Spring, you can tease me and get my hopes up, but I don’t trust you.
I hope you all don’t mind too much that I am posting about this lovely squash out of season. You see, I cook with it all year long. It’s a great substitute for pasta because of its spaghetti like strands. Its so good smothered in marinara sauce, alfredo sauce, butter and herbs, in tacos…I have even hidden it in muffins! Check out these super easy spaghetti squash and Portobello stacks.
Today I have a recipe of spaghetti squash tossed with beans, corn, cheese, cilantro, tomatoes, and lots of spices. But first, here are some tips on how to cook a spaghetti squash:
OVEN ROASTED: Takes a little more time, but results in the best flavor.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut off the ends of the squash and slice in half lengthwise. Place both halves face down in a pan with just a small layer of water in the bottom of the pan. Cook for 45-60 minutes. The time is going to vary a little because the size of the squash will vary. Check it at 45 minutes. You should be able to pierce the skin with a fork and easily pull away the flesh. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp. You can also do this before cooking, its just a little harder to scrape it out when its raw. Once the seeds are out, use a fork to pull the squash away from the rind. It should separate into strands.
MICROWAVE: For those of you who didn’t plan ahead (me!).
Poke holes all over the squash and place it an 8x8 glass dish or a bowl. Set it inside the microwave and cook for about 12 minutes. Again the cooking time will vary depending on the size of the squash. Rotate the squash every couple of minutes so it cooks evenly. Cut in half and scoop out the seeds and pulpy stuff in the middle. Pull the squash away from the rind with a fork.
If you would rather, you can cut it in half before microwaving it. Just scrape out the seeds and place it face down in a microwavable dish with a little bit of water in the bottom of the dish.
CROCK POT: A Great option if you are making dinner ahead of time.
Poke a few holes in the squash and place it in the crock pot, along with a cup of water. Cook on low for 4-6 hours, depending on the size. Last time I did this, it took about 4.5 hours to get nice and soft. When its done cooking, slice it open and scoop out seeds and pulp. Use a fork to pull the squash away from the rind.
A few more spaghetti squash tips:
- If you are cooking it whole, poke a few holes, so it doesn’t explode.
- If you are slicing when it is raw, use a really sharp knife and be really careful not to let any stray fingers get in the way.
- If it is too hard to slice, you can soften it for about 3 minutes in the microwave before slicing.
- Use a fork to pull out the flesh of the squash to make it stringy and noodle like.
- Sometimes the squash can produce a lot of liquid if it is used in a casserole or pasta dish, so it helps to let the flesh drain in a mesh sieve for awhile before adding it to you dish. If you are just eating it right out of the oven with some salt and butter, don’t worry about this.
- 1 small spaghetti squash, cooked
- 1 TBSP. olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/2 green bell pepper
- 1/2 red bell pepper
- 1 C. corn (frozen, canned, or fresh)
- 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (10 oz.) can diced tomatoes with diced chilies
- 2 heaping TBSP. cilantro
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 1/2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne (more if you want it spicy)
- 1/8 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1/2 lime, juiced (about 1 TBSP)
- 1/4 C. crumbled cotija cheese (A white Mexican cheese with a taste similar to feta. If you can’t find this cheese, you could use feta or really any cheese you have on hand).
1. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and bell peppers and cook until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
2. Add the corn, beans, and tomatoes and cook through.
3. Mix all the spices together in a small bowl.
4. Cut open the hot, cooked squash and use a fork to separate the strands and remove the flesh. Leave the skins intact and set aside. Transfer the squash to a mesh strainer set over the sink or a bowl to drain some of the moisture. Let it sit for about 10 minutes, pressing the squash lightly with the back of a rubber spatula at the end to get a little more juice out. After draining, move the squash to a large mixing bowl.
5. Add the bean and veggie mixture from the pan to the bowl with the squash. Add the spices mixture, lime juice, and cheese. Toss together until combined. Taste and add salt as needed.
6. Transfer the mixture back into the skins of the squash. If you worked quickly, you can serve it at this point. If the ingredients have cooled down, place the filled squash rinds on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 350 or just until its heated through.
Recipe by Edible Experiments