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If you bake spaghetti squash long enough, it will lose its distinctive strands and gain a creamy texture, similar to baked acorn or butternut squash. This probably isn't the result you're looking for, since spaghetti squash is usually served as a pasta substitute. Regardless of the method you use -- baked, steamed or microwaved -- check the squash often. It's done when the texture resembles that of a sliced cucumber.
It won't hurt spaghetti squash to cover it during baking, but it's not necessary. Covering squash during baking causes it to steam, which cooks it quickly. Acorn and butternut squashes are usually covered because you want to cook them until they're completely tender. Cook spaghetti squash, though, only until it's crisp-tender. If you overcook it, it becomes watery and loses flavor. Check spaghetti squash more frequently as it bakes if you cover it.
The simplest way to bake spaghetti squash is to cut the squash lengthwise in half and remove the seeds. Brush the cut sides lightly with oil and place them cut side down on a baking sheet. Put a few tablespoons of water in the bottom of the pan. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 to 50 minutes or until the squash is tender if you prick it with a fork. Let the squash cool for five minutes and then scrape out the strands of squash. Another option is to bake the squash whole. Prick the squash all over with a fork before placing it on a baking sheet. Bake it for 50 minutes to one hour or until tender. You can also microwave spaghetti squash. Place cut halves in a microwave- safe baking dish with a little water. Cover the dish with microwave-safe plastic wrap and heat until tender -- 20 to 30 minutes.
At the Market
Spaghetti squash is classified as a winter squash because it has a hard, inedible rind, but these squash are available in the market year-round. The squash range in size between 4 and 8 pounds and resemble a small watermelon. Buy spaghetti squash that are completely yellow. Green blotches mean the squash was picked before it was ripe. Avoid any that have soft or bruised spots. Wash the squash before you cut it open.
Saucing It Up
Spaghetti squash has a mild flavor that pairs well with almost any sauce. Use spaghetti squash as a stand-in for pasta and combine it with marinara, pesto or sauteed mushrooms and herbs. Spaghetti squash doesn't have as much beta carotene as other winter squashes, but at only 42 calories and 10 grams of carbohydrates per serving, it's friendly to your waistline.
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