Craving a big bowl of pasta but not eating carbs? Spaghetti squash is the answer and it is almost as popular a choice as pasta these days.
The go-to dish is spaghetti squash topped with meat sauce but more and more the pasta-like strands of squash are being topped with the viral Baked Tomato Feta. I know that I’ve made both many times.
When I think about spaghetti squash as the chameleon vegetable that it is, my favorite way to serve it is with a rich miso butter. But, spaghetti squash is hard to cut and that deters a lot of people from buying it and baking it as a delicious side dish or as a pasta substitute.
About a decade ago, I was also one of those people and I decided to experiment with cooking spaghetti squash whole and removing the seeds after cooking it. I wasn’t sure it would work, or how difficult it would be to remove the seeds once it was baked. Turns out, it was easy peasy. Since then, I’ve written about the genius of cooking whole squash, and I’ve been featured in magazines with this hard-squash hack. This method works for any hard squash including the crowd favorite, Butternut, and is my secret to the best Butternut Soup.
But the technique is still largely unknown. I keep watching people “solve” this dilemma on reels, You Tube and in social media posts by cutting hard squash with a knife and making it easier by using a mallet, or cutting off the ends to make it level and more stable. But the fact remains, it is still a hard vegetable to cut through.
There is really no reason you have to cut it if all you want is the “flesh” inside. When you bake hard squash whole, the “flesh” is tender and juicy and the skin becomes so soft that you can cut in half with a dinner knife.
Bake the squash for an hour in a pre-heated 350°F or 375°F oven. [My recipe has evolved over the years, and I roast larger squash at 375°F. If you have a normal spaghetti squash that is about the size of a football, 350°F is just fine.]
After an hour, I turn off the heat and let the squash continue baking in the residual heat for 15-30 minutes. You can tell if it is done if a small thin knife sticks into the squash as easily as room temperature butter. Do not over-cook the squash, you want the squash to retain it’s shape, and not collapse on itself.
When the resting time is up, the squash is very soft and it is ver easy to cut in half. You can also cut it half lengthwise or through the middle if you are looking for the strands to be longer, like spaghetti. The seeds are also easy to remove with a spoon. Rake a fork across the length of the half of squash, and it will instantly fall into strands.
Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Miso Butter
This vegetable side dish is so easy to make and will become a favorite. Leftovers reheat well, and it makes a delicious meatless pasta dish when served on top of fresh fettucine with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
Makes 5-10 cups depending on size of squash
1 spaghetti squash, washed and stickers removed
1 generous tablespoon white miso
½ cup (4 ounces) softened unsalted butter
Pinch of granulated garlic
Pinch of dried chives
Pinch of dried sage
Pinch of coarse sea salt
Ground white pepper to taste.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F or 375 F depending on the size of the squash—small to medium squash should cook at the lower temperature.
- Place spaghetti squash on a sheet pan fitted with parchment paper. Let bake for 1-2 hour s depending on size. You can tell if it is done if a small thin knife sticks into the squash as easily as room temperature butter.
- Meanwhile, make the Miso Butter by combining the butter and miso paste. Taste and add more miso if desired. It should taste a bit salty and be full of umami flavor.
- Season the Miso Butter as you like. I usually add a generous pinch of granulated garlic, dried chives, dried sage and salt. If you need a measurement, start with about 1/8th teaspoon. Because each squash yields a different amount, you may need to use more or less. Finish with some white pepper.
- After an hour, test squash for doneness by inserting a small paring knife through the center. If it is soft, turn off the heat and close the oven door. Let squash rest and finish cooking in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Remove squash and cut in half. If you want longer strands, cut in half through the middle. If you don’t care about the length of the spaghetti squash, cut vertically. Remove seeds with a spoon and rake the spaghetti squash with a fork into a serving bowl. This will release the strands.
- Toss strands with about 2 tablespoons of the Miso Butter to start. Taste and add more Miso Butter to your liking.
- Serve hot. This dish also reheats well and is great served as a vegetable or on top of pasta with parmesan cheese.