UNC Health Talk

Bringing Spaghetti Squash to the Main Stage

a ripe yellow Spaghetti squash
Ripe Spaghetti squash

It’s one of those items that you usually walk right past in the produce section of the grocery store. In professional kitchens, it’s hardly used on menus, mostly because cooks or chefs have never used it. I’m going to do my part in trying to change that, because roasting a spaghetti squash is where it’s at. The next time you are out at the market, take one home, as I will now share the simple technique of how to cook this. Trust me, it’s really not as intimidating as it looks.

a bottle of Peter Luger steak sauceTo be honest, it’s not something I ever ate while growing up. It took going to culinary school to finally be introduced to it. It was love at first bite. On the home front, my wife usually makes it for me when she wants to ‘impress me,’ along with a grilled rib-eye steak with some Peter Luger Steak House Old Fashioned Sauce that we import frequently from NYC.

Recently, one of our chefs John Longe, (our very own whole grains cooking guru) roasted some off for our Courtyard Cafe customers and it was a big hit. Now, I can give you all the data on how healthy it is for you, such as being packed with nutrients like folic acid, potassium, vitamin A, and beta carotene. But, I’m sharing this with you for two main reasons – It’s easy to cook, and it just tastes awesome!

First things first, you need to preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Take your squash and slice it in half lengthwise. This will take some effort, make sure you are using a large chef’s knife safely. When the squash is halved, you will need to scoop out the seeds. At this point, drizzle a small amount of extra virgin olive oil around the insides of the squash, then sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Now place these halves face down on a sheet pan, and place in the oven for about 35 minutes, or until they are completely soft.

You will now need to take a regular fork, and gently scrape the small strands away from the skin. It will gently pull apart and you will be left with these tiny squash ‘noodles’, just like this:

For one whole squash, toss these ‘noodles’ with about 1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan Cheese, 3 tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley, 2 tablespoons of soft butter, and a pinch of salt and cracked black pepper.

Squash FinishedThat’s it, as there is no reason to mask this work of art with any added sauces, herbs, or vegetables. I guarantee, that once you’ve tried this, you’ll be sure to pass it along to others who have been previously deprived of that ‘Big Yellow Thing.’


About the Expert: Ryan Conklin is a Chef Manager for Culinary & Nutritional Services at Rex. His mission is to bring healthy, gourmet cuisine to the Rex community & shed the label of ‘hospital food.’