Maybe you’ve seen spaghetti squash in the grocery store, but passed it by because the idea of cutting, peeling and preparing it was just too daunting. Fear no more. Spaghetti squash gets its name from its flesh, which resembles delicate strands of angel hair pasta when cooked. Many love that the squash is low in calories and high in fiber. When prepared and seasoned well (it can be bland, so be bold), the cooked squash can be served under blanket of marinara, tucked into casseroles, stirred into stews and even baked into quick breads.
For a basic baked preparation, heat the oven to 450 degrees. On a secure cutting board and using a sharp chef’s knife, carefully cut the squash in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. (Set them aside and roast them later.) Brush the cut side of each squash half with a tablespoon olive oil, then season well with salt and pepper. Place squash, cut-sides down, on a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast until the squash is tender when poked with a fork, 35 to 40 minutes. Be sure not to overcook or the “noodles” will become mushy.
When it’s done baking, flip the squash cut-side up and use a fork to scrape the squash into spaghetti-like strands. Now it’s ready to be used in another recipe, or seasoned well with salt and pepper and served with your favorite marinara sauce.
If you want to make a meal of it, complete the above steps through scraping the flesh into strands, but leave the flesh in the rind. While the squash bakes, stir together one cup grated Parmesan, a half-cup panko, one teaspoon grated garlic, one teaspoon fresh (or a half-teaspoon dried) thyme leaves and one tablespoon olive oil. Season the spaghetti squash generously with salt and pepper. Divide four ounces of cubed mozzarella evenly between the squash halves, and stir to combine. (You could also add halved cherry tomatoes or chopped spinach.) Sprinkle the squash with four ounces more of cubed mozzarella, then the panko mixture. You could also add a sprinkle of red-pepper flakes. Roast until the top is golden brown and the mozzarella has melted, 20 to 25 minutes. Let rest for five minutes, then slice each in half. Serve with a snappy, cold green side like broccoli salad with garlic and sesame or Caesar salad.