Making Spaghetti Squash for Dessert
Grow Spaghetti Squash: It's Easy, Versatile, and Convenient to Harvest and Store
By Lenora Larson – We who combine gardening and cooking as collaborative passions continue our quest for the perfect crop. Our specifications are simple. The plant must be easy to grow and harvest, versatile and delicious to eat. The traditional favorites have major flaws. Little bitty seeds are hard to plant. A puff of wind and the carrot seeds are cast across three counties. Many, such as celery, cauliflower and parsnips, are so persnickety that we ordinary gardeners are doomed to failure. Without massive chemical warfare, our cole crops will be chewed into green lace doilies. Beans and peas are elusive, playing hide ’n seek among the foliage. Melons require mystic rituals of ripeness: thumping and thunking, test twisting of stems, and sniffing at ends. Each ear of growing sweet corn should be picked within the 20 minute peak of flavor perfection. Raccoons have mastered this timing: humans have not. Most of our harvest mandates a frenzy of picking and processing to preserve the bounty. Cleaning and sorting, trimming and packing, blanching or canning in hot, steamy kitchens. Tomatoes and zucchini are wonderful, but must be picked daily and become overwhelming in their abundance.
Is our quest in vain?
Let us now consider the vegetable spaghetti squash and the wonderful recipes we can explore for making spaghetti squash.
The large seeds are easily planted, with almost 100 percent germination. Full sun, well-drained soil augmented with a bit of fertilizer, and an occasional dusting of Sevin are conditions easily met. Black plastic as mulch speeds ripening and eliminates weeding. The rampaging sprawl can be trained to a trellis or tomato cage, a practice which displays the large orange flowers and lovely pale fruit. Maturing in only 80 days, this curcurbita can be grown almost everywhere and announces its readiness for harvest by a color change from ivory to lemon yellow. Each vine is bountiful, producing four to six squash averaging five pounds each. Convenience chooses the picking time and squash stored in the basement in August are still edible in April.
And the taste? Top seed companies tout its delicate flavor and promote plates full of the pasta-like strands for the weight watcher. In fact, squash tops most garden vegetable lists as the gold standard for weight lose.
Obviously the spaghetti squash readily qualifies as a perfect vegetable: easy and beautiful in the garden, prolific, convenient to harvest and store, and versatile as a pasta substitute.
There is only one problem: I hate squash. The very word in my mouth provokes a gag reflex. So why am I lovingly tending this patch of spaghetti squash?
The answer is simple, and has the support of the scientific community. Spaghetti squash is not a vegetable. It is a fruit.
Do you pour tomato sauce from scratch over apples and bananas? Fruits are not to be adorned with gravies and garlic. They are for salads and dessert. As you harvest your spaghetti squash, don’t think “oregano and parmesan.” Dream of crisp fruit salads, perfumed texture in Jell-O, and pudding and sumptuous cakes.
Onward to the Kitchen
The first step in all spaghetti squash recipes is the cooking and the fluffing-out of the strands. Avoid the soggy mess of boiling by baking, either conventionally or super-fast in the microwave.
Cut in half and discard seeds
Bake 350°F approximately 1 hr.*
Fluff out strands
Pierce skin and cut in half
Bake 7 min. on high*, face down on rack
Fluff out strands
*Time depends on size
The spaghetti squash strands may be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Expect about three cups of spaghetti squash strands from a three-pound squash, but there is considerable variation in the yield, so the recipes are given as “cups of spaghetti squash strands.” My beloved food processor performs the chopping, pureeing and mixing chores.
Fruit salads, fresh or canned, are greatly enhanced by the crunchy texture of chopped SSS, which assumes the flavor of the fruits and dressing.
Making Spaghetti Squash for Fruit Salad
A. Ambrosia, for coconut-haters
1 can drained mandarin oranges
1 can pineapple, undrained
1 cup coarsely chopped spaghetti squash strands
1 cup miniature marshmallows
Mix together and refrigerate for several hours before serving.
B. Mixed fruit
1 cup coarsely chopped spaghetti squash strands
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
Toss with fresh cut fruits. Suggestions: 1 ripe banana, 1 peach or nectarine, 1 cup sliced strawberries.
Mix and refrigerate overnight.
No one over the age of 18 seems to like Jell-O anymore. However, pureed spaghetti squash strands dilutes the cloying sweetness and adds an intriguing texture that wins adults back to Jell-O salads. Simply follow the package directions, folding in two or three cups of pureed spaghetti squash strands.
Making Spaghetti Squash: Puddings & Pie Fillings
A. Lemon curd
2 cups pureed spaghetti squash strands
Juice and rind of 1 lemon
Add 1 package instant lemon pudding
Mix and serve with bagels and cream cheese
2 cups spaghetti squash strands
8 oz. cream cheese
Add 1 package instant pudding.
Mix and refrigerate. Or pour into springform pan lined with graham cracker crust and refrigerate. Serve with fruit or whipped cream topping.
C. Grape jam
1-1/2 cups (12 oz.) frozen grape juice, thawed
2-1/2 cups pureed spaghetti squash strands
1 package Sure-Jell-O
Heat to a full, rolling boil and add:
4 cups sugar
Boil hard for one minute, stirring constantly.
Ladle into canning jars and seal.
I suspect that pureed spaghetti squash strands could be used to make up the fruit volume in all jams if you like the added texture.
Making Spaghetti Squash: Cookies & Cakes
3 cups drained chopped spaghetti squash strands
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate, melted
1-1/2 teaspoons soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup salad oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
Combine and mix. Stir in 1 cup chocolate chips.
Bake in prepared 9″ x 13″ pan at 350°F for 45 minutes.
The culinary possibilities for spaghetti squash are limited only by your imagination. Spaghetti squash strands can be substituted with great success in zucchini and green tomato recipes, but with the advantages of carefree harvest and long storage.
For more detailed growing instructions and many delicious recipes, The Vegetable Spaghetti Cookbook by Derek Fell and Phyllis Shaudys is highly recommended.
Two additional tips: For picture-perfect fruits, cut the tops off panty hose and slip each squash into a leg to protect fruit from insect blemishes.
And do not try to save seeds if you are growing other curcurbits. The spaghetti squash is a promiscuous libertine and will freely cross-fertilize with other squash, pumpkins and gourds.
Okay, so no one is perfect!
What are you favorite ways of making spaghetti squash?
Originally published in the Sept/Oct 1999 issue of Countryside & Small Stock Journal and regularly vetted for accuracy.