In case you were wondering, spaghetti squash is a little difficult to clean up after it has simultaneously imploded and exploded all over your microwave. Spaghetti squash can be intimidating. It’s this huge, mysterious gourd that is reticent to share it’s tasty spaghetti-like strands if you don’t treat it right. It’s quite possible that we are all destined to this certain rite-of-passage that involves cleaning up an imploded spaghetti squash; however, I do have a few tricks to improve upon your spaghetti squash handling technique. Just keep reading!
The two main ways to prepare spaghetti squash are to bake it or microwave it. Of course, you know that my preference is to microwave and be done with it. To prepare your squash, give it about 20 pokes all around the rind with a skewer or knife to allow steam to vent while it cooks. This step is of paramount importance. (I just used the word paramount, so you know I’m giving you real talk.) Poke, poke, poke, and throw it in the microwave. Some people prefer to place the squash in a deep dish filled with water, but I haven’t really seen a huge difference in the outcome with that method, and then you have to deal with boiled microwave water that is hotter than the center of the Earth. The second part of my methodology involves not cutting the squash until after it cooks. The rind is hard as heck, and unless you have very good aim and a smallish machete on hand, trying to cut it raw just stresses me out/terrifies me a wee bit. So, throw the squash on a plate and zap it for about 8 minutes in the microwave. You might have to heat it for less or more time depending on its size. I picked up a huge spaghetti squash that was a little over 2 pounds (weighed with the rind and stem), and 8 minutes was perfect. It cut like buttah. I like my noodles a bit al dente, but if you prefer a soft noodle, allow it to cook longer until you reach the consistency you want.
For this particular dish I threw some sliced chicken thighs in the skillet, but any other protein would be equally as delicious. I use boneless skinless thighs since they cook up quickly, and I make sure to season them generously with salt, onion powder, and paprika (garlic powder and/or cayenne pepper would be good, too). You could also use leftover rotisserie chicken (just check the ingredients prior to buying to look for funky stuff). Got some steak? Yup, it would be delicious thinly sliced and thrown in the mix.
Maybe the most obvious question is: does spaghetti squash taste like spaghetti? Not quite–it has a very mild sweetness to it, but it looks like pasta, and it works well in pasta applications. So, whether you are looking for new vegetables to try or you are new to gluten-free eating, I definitely recommend trying out spaghetti squash in dishes calling for spaghetti! It also only has 1.4 net carbs per ounce!
What makes this dish really special is the combination of lemon and oregano. Oregano is such a nutrient-dense herb. It’s filled with antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also rich in antioxidants and a good source of vitamin K, which helps support bone health. So, add oregano to your dishes!
When it comes to zesting, I’ve put together a few tips so that you can be the best lemon zester on the block:
- Make sure to wash your lemons very well. By the time produce has made it into your home, it’s been groped and handled by who knows how many people.
- Invest in a good microplane! I picked up a random one at Target because it had the alluring clearance sticker on it. I took it home. I was excited. Tried it out immediately to find that it was awful. I couldn’t get it to zest, grate, or do anything remotely useful besides spite me. Back to Target it went.
- When you are zesting, keep rotating the lemon so you are only zesting the skin, and not the pith, which is rather bitter. The pith is the white spongy layer between the skin and the fruit.
- Zest before you cut and squeeze the lemon juice. This seems obvious, right? Yeah, I still forget sometimes. This is like PEMDAS/order of operations, but applied to the kitchen.
- Make sure to turn the microplane over and (using a spoon), scrape off all the zest from the back of the plane. And rinse that thing immediately so you’re not scraping tiny lemon specks off a sharp blade days later when you realize the dish washer failed you as an appliance. Don’t be lazy, dude.
I haven’t had “real” spaghetti since 2010, and I promise you, I’m not suffering at all. It’s so easy to remake your old favorite dishes using healthier ingredients. Try out this recipe, and let me know what you think! Do you have a favorite way to eat spaghetti squash? Oh, and please let me know if you have any kitchen stories involving exploding squash. I can’t be the only one! Share your thoughts below in the comments, and thanks for reading!
- Puncture spaghetti squash rind about 20 times to allow steam to vent while cooking.
- Place spaghetti squash on a microwave-safe plate and heat for 8 minutes in microwave
- Check for doneness by pressing lightly on spaghetti squash rind. Rind should yield gently to pressure. Heat for an additional 2-4 minutes if spaghetti squash is still hard. Allow spaghetti squash to rest for a few minutes until cool enough to handle.
- Slice spaghetti squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds with a large spoon. Use a fork to scrape out spaghetti squash flesh from each half and set "spaghetti" aside.
- Add 2 tbs olive oil to a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add spaghetti squash, kale, lemon juice, lemon zest, spices, and diced chicken to pan.
- Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat and serve immediately.
- Adjust seasoning as necessary depending on size of spaghetti squash.