Try This 42-Calorie Spaghetti Swap

By , Bryn Mooth
Fall and winter squash varieties, including acorn, butternut and spaghetti, are now showing up in farmers’ markets. You’ll be delighted by how delicious, easy to prepare and versatile spaghetti squash can be.
Spaghetti squash is named for its uncanny resemblance to pasta once cooked. The squash is tasty yet neutral enough to pair with anything you would normally eat atop pasta.
And, if you're watching your carb intake, spaghetti squash should go in your cart. Take a look at how it measures up against standard noodles:
1 cup portion Calories Fat (g) Carbs (g)
Spaghetti (made with white flour)* 221 1 43
Whole-wheat spaghetti* 124 1 27
Spaghetti squash 42 0 10
* Nutrition info varies by brand. Source: SparkPeople Nutrition Tracker

Preparation: Microwave
Cut squash in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds. Place in a microwave-safe baking dish, cut side up, with 1/4 cup water. Cover and cook on high for 10 to 12 minutes, or until tender. Let cool; use a fork to scrape out the spaghetti-like strands.
Preparation: Baking
Pierce whole squash several times all over with a fork to ventilate steam. Place on a baking sheet; bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 60 to 90 minutes or until squash is tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Let cool; use a fork to scrape out the strands.
Preparation: Boiling
This is the easiest method: In a pot large enough to hold the squash and water to cover it, bring the water to a boil. Carefully drop in the squash; cover and cook at a low boil for 20 to 30 minutes or until squash is tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Let cool; use a fork to scrape out the strands.

Pesto Spaghetti Squash
For simple side dish, mix a spoonful of your favorite pesto into a serving of squash. Top with a bit of shredded Parmesan and perhaps a serving of roast chicken.

Spaghetti Squash with Corn
Cut the kernels from 4 ears of farm-fresh corn; saute in olive oil with chopped garlic. Add cooked spaghetti squash, a handful of toasted pine nuts and some chopped parsley. Serve topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Spaghetti Squash with Butter and Garlic
This makes a terrific side dish with grilled shrimp or ground chicken. Melt butter in a skillet; add garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add cooked spaghetti squash and a generous amount of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Spaghetti (Squash) and Meatballs
Swap spaghetti squash for the traditional pasta, tossed with your favorite marinara sauce and low-fat turkey meatballs.
Chef Meg’s Slow-Cooker Chicken Marinara
Cooked spaghetti squash would be the perfect base for this easy meal of boneless chicken with a chunky vegetable sauce.
Spaghetti Squash with Fresh Tomato Sauce
A super-flavorful, all-veggie meal comes together with very little effort when you toss cooked spaghetti squash with a nearly no-cook fresh tomato sauce.
Spaghetti Squash with Creamy Tomato-Mushroom Sauce
Rich-tasting dried mushrooms, canned whole tomatoes and a touch of cream come together in this traditional Italian pasta sauce that works well with cooked spaghetti squash.
Spaghetti Squash Pancakes
Think potato pancakes but made with spaghetti squash instead, so they’re a bit lighter-tasting. Great as a side dish with grilled pork chops or chicken sausages.
Related Recipe: Pancit Bihon recipe

What is your favorite spaghetti squash recipe?

Bryn Mooth is extending her 20-year career in publishing as an independent journalist and copywriter. She shares seasonal recipes, kitchen techniques, healthy eating tips and food wisdom on her blog

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JUDY1676 7/12/2020
Thanks! Report
KHALIA2 3/20/2020
NEVER, EVER had this this one before! Report
DEE107 10/25/2019
thanks Report
KALISBACK 10/19/2019
I have so many great recipes for spaghetti squash. My favorite is lasagna or chicken parm. My hubby's is jambalaya. Report
This is great! Thank you for these substitutions! Report
I like spaghetti squash, even my picky son likes it. Report
Squash is great! Report
It grew prolifically in my garden up north and never knew what to do with it until now. Report
Nice substitution Report
pancakes?? I'm interested Report
Great recipe ideas, I love spaghetti squash. I sometimes make eggplant Parmesan and use it. Report
I love squash! Report
I like it as a side vegetable dish with a little butter and parmesan cheese. Report
My husband is on Low carb diet and loves having spaghetti squash. Report
I prefer zucchini from my spiralizer. However it isn't as good as real pasta but it is okay when I am really watching my calories. Report
The spaghetti squash pancakes sound interesting. I will have to try them. Report
I wish instead of the pasta in Shrimp Scampi . . . so good Report
I have never tried spaghetti squash but I want to. These recipes sound good.. Report
Terrible stuff, may as well take cardboard cut into pieces, soak it and drain, put some sauce on it and tell your family, here is low carb dinner!! Report
Try it with peanut sauce for Pad Thai or as a substitute for glass noodles in Asian dishes. I like it seasoned with ginger, soy, garlic, peanut sauce, anything Asian. Add some broccoli or bean sprouts just like stir fry. Never been a fan of it as "spaghetti" though.
Microwaving it is SO easy; just be sure to have it well done & not still crunchy. Thanks! Report
Spaghetti squash added to REAL (good quality, organic, imported Italian spaghetti) and/or added to Shirataki (tofu) can help reduce calories in a spaghetti dish while adding fiber. Report
I find spaghetti squash to be flat, tasteless, not very filling and not even close to any kind of pasta. A one oz serving of pasta is tasty, filling and only about 100 calories, not worth the swap. Report
Love spaghetti squash. Been eating it for decades. Love Squash in general. Have to try stir fry idea, and butter fried sage????! Mmmmm!!! Report
Spaghetti squash does not even come close to tasting like noodles. Report
I have actually never tried spaghetti squash but definitely will try it. Report
I like spaghetti squash- no question. Mixed with sour cream, seasalt, garlic flakes and a LOT of black pepper it is a great sidedish and even meal on its own.
But it would not work as a pasta substitute for me since the taste differs to much as does the consistency. If I want to overindulge on spaghetti I´d rather choose Konjak root spaghetti. It is really al dente and goes great with a creamy tomato sauce and parmesan.
Did not know it could be made whole in the microwave. Good to know because those things are HARD to cut in half. I have used zucchini a great deal instead of spaghetti squash. In fact, I am using zucchini instead of cabbage to make baked egg rolls today! Report
My kids and I love it with meatballs or Italian sausage with sauce But I cook mines in the microwave whole with fork holes in it for 20 mins than I cut it open and remove all the seeds and serve just like pasta. Report
my first spaghetti squash tonight! Crossing my fingers the hubs enjoys it as well lol :) Report
It's much easier, faster and SAFER to cook the spaghetti squash WHOLE in the microwave.

Just wash it, stab it several times with a knife, and microwave it for 9 minutes or so on High. Let it continue steaming undisturbed in the microwave for another 5-10 minutes.

It will be super easy to slice in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and separate the strands. Report
I work with a lot of Filipinos and discovered that spaghetti squash looks just like the rice noodles used in pancit. I made it the other night with chicken and shrimp and it was really good! Report
I transformed a Stuffed Spaghetti Squash into a Spaghetti Squash "Lasagna". The sauce is made from ground turkey and grass fed beef, 1# of each... mushrooms, onion, garlic, and your favorite marinara sauce.
The cooked Spaghetti Squash is then layered beginning with the squash, then sauce/meat mixture, a light layer of grated Sheeps Milk Pecorino Romano Cheese...and then repeated. Heat through in the oven and serve. I freeze individual porstions which makes my life much easier. This is absolutely scrumptious! Report
I love how versatile Spaghetti Squash is. I stopped using pasta and strictly use the squash. Yummy! Report
Love spaghetti squash with just a little margarine or butter and pepper --- so I'm looking forward to trying these recipes
Excellent ideas for preparing squash. Thank you. Report
I have never had it. My daughter inlaw loves it, so I will give it a try. Report
I cut my squash across the middle, put some press n seal over the top and stick it in the microwave for 7-8 minutes as I like mine a little crunchy. I eat 1/2 of a small one which is about 2 cups with some spaghetti sauce from a jar. I want to try it with the butter and garlic, maybe with my steak tonight. I just started eating it a little over a year ago. Report
My fave method of cooking: Leave whole, pierce with a fork all over, put in microwave safe dish, cook on high for 5-7 minutes depending on size. Let sit 5 minutes. Slice, remove seeds, scrape, & EAT! Report
I love all kinds of squash, and while I like pasta I'm not as huge a fan as some people. That said, I love to use spaghetti squash in traditional pasta recipes because I'm happy to adapt instead of replace the pasta, if that makes sense. I can't wait to try some of these other cooking methods; I've only ever roasted it. Report
I love spagetti squash and don't miss pasta at all when I eat it. Report
Love spaghetti squash. I suggest you slice it width-wise if you want the strands longer. I agree with others who have said they were disappointed because it didn't have the taste or "feel" of real spaghetti. All this is true, but then I just ate it with a touch of butter, pepper and salt. It was so good. The boiling method wounds great and I will try that this year. My only problem now is: I didn't plant any spaghetti squash this year! WHY? Report
I put mine in my slow cooker - either cut it in half or in quarters to make it fit. Then, I add one jar of tomato sauce, 1 can of drained diced tomatoes (or fresh if I have them on hand), and frozen meatballs (either extra lean, chicken or turkey work great). Let it cook all day, pull out the spaghetti squash pieces and run a fork over them to make it like noodles, top with the meatballs and sauce. Super easy dinner and makes lots of leftovers for lunches too! Report
Hopefully I'm not alone in my distaste for spaghetti squash. The appearance is the only thing that is similar to spaghetti. I applaud those that can use this as a swap since it has much fewer calories and carbs, but for me it's a no-go. I think it's the texture?!? Report
Love spaghetti squash! Report
I've used spaghetti squash a few times in dishes and have found it to have a very mild taste, so it goes with just about anything! I used it instead of pasta with a tomato & veggie sauce, and I added some chicken - it was delicious! Because it's so mild, it does need to be paired with some great seasonings to add flavor.

Either the oven or the microwave are easiest for me to prepare. I don't have a pot big enough for the boiling method, or a crockpot that big. The microwave method has worked for me, though you have to allow time for it to cool a bit after microwaving it, as it's very hot to hold while using the fork to get the spaghetti strands out. If it's crunchy, then it hasn't cooked long enough - it shouldn't be crunchy. Report
I don't know where they are getting there information, but the calorie difference between regular pasta and whole wheat is minimal, it's mostly a fiber difference. And the idea of using spaghetti squash as spaghetti while entertaining, doesn't fill my desire for pasta. Report
I made the squash last night, but I don't know if I did it right. Everyone on here is raving about it and I didn't enjoy it. The consistency of the squash was too crunchy for my taste. Did I do something wrong? I tried the boil method, btw. Report
Wonderful article and couldn't believe the comparison difference. WOW!

I am new to spaghetti squash but looking forward to experimenting with it more. I love squash and heard this was an excellent substitute but never tried it. Figured to time consuming for just me because I knew no one else would eat it. I was wrong, they are beyond easy to prepare, just cut in half, scoop seeds out, cover and microwave for 10 - 15 minutes. Scoop and eat. It doesn't take any longer than making pasta if you figure in bringing your water to a boil. Family had regular pasta and I had spaghetti squash.

Plan on growing some this summer so I can cook and freeze in individual sized packages. Excellent! Report
We love spaghetti squash. By far, the easiest way to cook it is in the crock pot. Stab it a few times for steam release, throw it in the crock pot on low for 6 hours (check for softness of the skin) and then cut and take out the spaghetti! Report