Written By: Pamela Ballard; In-House Nutritionist
Spaghetti squash, also known as vegetable spaghetti, is a type of winter squash that, when cooked, separates into long pasta-like strands. All winter squash share a few common characteristics. The outer rinds are hard and difficult to pierce, enabling them to have long storage periods, from one week and six months. The flesh is mildly sweet to nutty in flavor and finely grained in texture.
In general, this squash provides abundant phytonutrients that promote health. It contains beta-carotene, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C, which provide anti-inflammatory benefits and support the immune system. Other key nutrients include vitamin B6, dietary fiber, folate, magnesium, copper, and potassium. The combination of these nutrients makes this food an excellent part of a heart-healthy diet. These nutrients are also known for their role in cancer prevention and management of blood sugar levels.
Spaghetti squash is at peak season from October to November. Choose a squash that is firm, heavy for its size and has a dull, not glossy, rind. Soft rinds may indicate that the squash is watery and lacking in flavor. Some tasty yet simple ways to prepare spaghetti squash include:
- Top with pasta sauce and Mediterranean herbs
- Prepare with eggs, onions and spinach for a savory breakfast
- Combine with tomatoes, avocado, cumin and cilantro for a Latin flavor
- Toss with low sodium Tamari, water chestnuts, carrots and bok choy for an oriental flavor
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Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti squash is a great choice for incorporating a tasty, meatless meal into your weekly menu. Although it has a mild nutty flavor on its own, when you combine spaghetti squash with sauteed onions, olives, feta, and juicy tomatoes, it absorbs those flavors, resulting in a Mediterranean dish everyone will enjoy. This recipe makes a hearty, lunch or dinner. If going meatless isn't your preference, pair this dish with wild caught fish fish or organic range free poultry.
- 1 3-4-pound spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
- 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 1/2 cups halved grape tomatoes
- 3/4 cup crumbled organic feta cheese
- 1/2 cup sliced organic black olives
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- Salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
2. Place spaghetti squash on the baking sheet, cut sides down. Bake until you can poke a sharp knife into the squash with little resistance, about 35-45 minutes. Remove squash from oven; set aside to cool.
3. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion in oil until tender. Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes and cook briefly, about 1 minute. You only want to warm the tomatoes.
4. Use a large fork to shred the "spaghetti" from the squash and place the strands in a large bowl. Toss with the sautéed vegetables, feta cheese, olives, and basil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.
** Kate's tip: Make it vegan and ditch the feta for some black beans, artichokes or some Kite Hill Ricotta (almond based)!