Spaghetti Squash (“Cucurbita pepo”)
Spaghetti Squash is something to consider introducing to your diet. It is relatively easy to find in the grocery stores in the winter as well as Farmer’s Markets in the late summer months. You can also grow it in your own garden! It is rich in vitamins and antioxidants, low in calorie and carbohydrates, high in fiber, and easy to prepare. Spaghetti Squash is different than typical squash varietals in that it can be shredded into strands resembling “spaghetti” and can be used as a gluten-free replacement to pasta, helping you achieve your carb reduction or weight loss goals.
Mary Barnidge, Master Gardener
Are you looking for a new nutritious vegetable to introduce to your diet?
Are you looking to reduce the amount of carbohydrates you consume, or an alternative to traditional spaghetti?
Are you interested in finding a new recipe that is easy and fun to make?
What Is Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti squash is a variety of winter squash, native to the Americas. It is a large oval vegetable typically with a light yellow, thin skin. Similar to other winter squash, it has a netting of seeds at its center, which can be roasted and eaten separately. Spaghetti Squash is unique, in that after cooking, its flesh can be shredded into long strands resembling spaghetti. Its botanical name is Cucurbita pepo.
How to Prepare
Rinse the exterior and cut in half length-wise
Remove seeds in the center with a large spoon, scrape out netting
Place on rimmed baking sheet or pan with cut-side down
Add about ¼ inch of water to pan
Bake in 375 degree oven for about 40 minutes or until the outer shell can be pressed down slightly with your finger
Remove from oven, flip each half to expose the flesh and let cool a few minutes
With a fork, scrape at the flesh, shredding it into spaghetti-like strands
Spaghetti squash is rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and beta-carotene.
One cup (155 grams) of cooked spaghetti squash contains the following:
Carbs: 10 grams
Fiber: 2.2 grams
Protein: 1 gram
Fat: 0.4 grams
Vitamin C: 6% of the DV
Manganese: 7% of the DV
Vitamin B6: 9% of the DV
Pantothenic acid: 11% of the DV
Niacin: 8% of the DV
Spaghetti squash also contains small amounts of potassium, thiamine, magnesium, foliate, calcium, and iron.
How to grow Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti squash can be grown by directly seeding in your garden. Plant two weeks after the last spring frost, typically the end of May or early June in Minnesota.
Chose a spot with full sun (at least 8 hours a day) and a loose, well-drained soil. Amend the soil with compost since the plants need nutrient-dense soil. Plant in hills, with 3 or 4 seeds per hill and 3 feet between each hill. Provide 1 inch of water per week (1-5 gallons per plant) during the growing season. Add water directly to the soil, avoiding the leaves.
Spaghetti Squash takes approximately 100 days from planting to harvest – or by the end of August or September. Harvest before the first hard freeze. You can test the ripeness of the fruit by pressing your thumbnail into the rind. It should be hard to pierce.
For more information on how to grow spaghetti and other winter squash varieties visit this University of Minnesota Extension website.
Spaghetti squash can be used in a variety of ways and can be a great substitute for traditional pasta, providing a higher nutritional value and lower caloric content. Try this tasty recipe:
Spaghetti Squash with Ground Turkey Bolognese
One large spaghetti squash
One 32-ounce jar of prepared spaghetti sauce or marinara
One pound of ground turkey
1 package sliced mushrooms
1 teaspoon oregano
Grated parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes or hot sauce, if desired
Prepare and bake spaghetti squash in 375 degree oven, as directed above.
Brown the ground turkey in a large fry pan with the mushrooms, season with 1 teaspoon oregano
Add jar of spaghetti sauce or marinara to fry pan. Simmer 10 minutes.
Shred the spaghetti squash into strands; serve on a plate and ladle turkey/sauce mixture over the top.
Serve with parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes or hot sauce, if desired
References: University of MN Extension
Photo credits: Mary Barnidge (1), www.midgetmomma.com (2)