Spaghetti Squash? Squash Noodles?
I've seen recipes for making pasta out of squash by using spaghetti squash and pulling out the noodles OR by julienning a squash or taking a vegetable peeler to it. I was wondering if there is a general preference as to which is better. Also please share any favorite ways to prepare it! Thanks in advance!!
Spaghetti squash can be baked or boiled. When it's boiled it tends to absorb quite a lot of water and needs to be thoroughly drained (I like to use a salad spinner) to remove as much water as possible before serving. The skin on spaghetti squash is rock hard and cutting through that hard shell can be quite difficult. I use a cleaver to cut in in half, clean out the seeds in the center cavity then boil the squash until its strands separate easily before draining it to serve.
My favorite method for serving is to spoon gravy (spaghetti sauce - with or without meat) over it and then sprinkle with Mizithra cheese. But it's also good with any Italian gravy. Or, just toss it with fresh melted butter, some basil and chopped almonds.
I don't think it works well with cream sauces.
I use a cleaver and chop the spaghetti squash into rings about 1" thick, use a spoon and clean out the seeds in the center, and then microwave loosely covered, with a couple of tablespoons of water in the dish (more if I'm cooking more than 2 rings at a time). It generally takes about 5 minutes to micro-steam 1or 2 rings. I'd check with a fork to see if tender if cooking more rings, adding another 30-45 seconds per. Once out of the mike, pull the strands out with a fork.
I like red sauces or butter/herb sauces on it better than cream sauces, as todao suggests, but I'll use pinenuts rather than almonds, and parmesan, of course. But any recipe, just think what sorts of tastes you like with zucchini or yellow squash, and that will likely work with spaghetti squash.
IMO it's less work to bake a spaghetti squash and fluff out the strands with a fork than to julienne or peel another variety of squash. I haven't done one in a long while so I can't recall how long it took to microwave it after puncturing the skin a few times, but it worked well. I turned it partway through cooking, and did not cut it open until it was cool enough to handle. More flavor is retained that way, or by oven-baking, than when boiling it.
If you're talking about spaghetti squash, I prefer to bake it rather than boiling. I've done it two ways -- pricking a whole squach all over with a knife, maybe an inch deep, and baking on a foil-lined pan at about 350 until a knife goes in easily; OR cut in half, prick the skin, lay cut side down on a foil-lined pan, bake at 350 until a knife goes in easily. Either way it's going to be an hour or better. I prefer the bake method over boiling to keep the flesh drier.
Just because it looks like spaghetti, doesn't mean it needs tomato sauce. Todao's second suggestion is the only way I like it -- garlic butter and black pepper. Maybe a bit of Parmesan.
If you're talking about using a vegetable peeler to strip off zucchini pasta shreds, then that's a different thing. They're delicious as well. Shred down to the seed core. Briefly saute the long strands of zucchini in garlicky olive oil. Eat as is, or toss with a light cream sauce, or mix with pasta (something small works here, like the baby bow ties newly available) and a light cheese sauce.
I agree with nemo -- these are two different things (even if botanically related). Spaghetti squash has a sweetness to it, like other winter squashes, which goes better with some sauces than others. I like it with creamy sauces, but not tomato or pesto, but your taste may differ. I like to bake it (face up on a baking sheet, about 400 degrees, probably 40-50 minutes) because I feel boiling or even steaming makes the strands too watery.
I adore making vegetable 'pasta' out of zucchini or any other summer squash. I most often use a vegetable peeler to make pappardalle like strips. I saute it in a nonstick skillet, just sprinkled with salt to draw out its juices, but no oil. It gets lovely brown bits on it towards the end as it sticks a bit. I'm particularly fond of putting pesto on it. Nice with a blue cheese creamy sauce too. Or parmesan. Or bacon & peas. Or....
Spaghetti squash can also be steamed in the microwave if you want to avoid water log (although todao's recommendation of a salad spinner is an ingenious manoeuvre). My preference is to serve it with a sweetish sauce to highlight the natural sugars in the squash with corned beef for protein. It was one of my favorite one-pot meals in college. I have also sauteed the strands in butter seasoned with cinnamon, cumin, coriander, garlic and cilantro to good reviews.
I'd definitely have to recommend the spaghetti squash over julienning a squash. I just cooked with a spaghetti squash for the first time last week and I found it was so easy to do with just baking in a dish with water. Like todao, I will agree that it does absorb a lot of water but I used the extra water to serve as a sauce with EVOO, roasted garlic and cherry tomatoes, basil and parmesan cheese. It was delicious and hearty.