Squash: The New Pasta

What’s stringy and blonde and easy to fix? Here’s a hint: It’s not your hair.

Spaghetti squash is a winter squash, but it can be found year round in most grocery stores and is a great substitute for pasta in virtually any noodle dish (including lasagna), so as to avoid those heavy, starchy carbs that tend to sabotage our otherwise healthy(-ish) lunches and dinners.

Image via Skinny Taste

What’s so great about it:

Low in saturated fat and cholesterol, spaghetti squash is a good source of Niacin, Potassium, Manganese, Dietary Fiber, and Vitamins B5, B6, and C. Plus, it’s dairy-free, nut-free, gluten-free, and is vegetarian and vegan, making it a pretty darn safe meal base.

Nutrition facts aside, it’s also cheap. A hefty-sized gourd will probably cost you around $5 and can easily produce several servings or meals (a week’s worth of Tupperware lunches, for example).

What you can do with it:

You can bake, steam, boil, and even microwave spaghetti squash, and the seeds can be roasted – similar to pumpkin seeds – for an added snack.

The easiest way to yield the noodle-like flesh from this vegetable is to bake it:

1. slice it in half lengthwise
2. pluck out the seeds
3. bake the two halves face-down on a greased cookie sheet for about half an hour (or more, depending on size) at 350 to 375 degrees

Once baked and cooled, simply scoop and rake out the insides – it’s kind of like carving a pumpkin.

For the seeds, just rinse off the squash goop, pat dry, and if you want them seasoned, lightly coat with oil and salt (or seasoning of your choice) and bake for about five minutes at the same temp.

What to eat it with:

The possibilities are endless with spaghetti squash. Make a white or red sauce, add meat or don’t, serve with sauteed veggies, or bake it casserole-style with beans, cheese, and peppers for a Mexican flair. You can even blend the squash seeds with pine nuts, basil leaves, and olive oil for a pesto sauce. Let your imagination run wild!

And if you don’t get around to using it right away, no problem. This hearty veggie will keep for months until you’re ready to cut and cook.

Originally published on the former Sweetlemonmag.com