Try This 42-Calorie Spaghetti Swap


By: , – Bryn Mooth
4/2/2013 6:00 PM   :  112 comments   :  531,726 Views

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 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.
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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  • 112
    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?!? - 2/22/2015   6:57:18 PM
    Love spaghetti squash! - 1/18/2015   11:44:15 AM
  • 110
    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. - 10/12/2014   8:02:51 AM
    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. - 9/17/2014   6:28:48 PM
  • 108
    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. - 3/19/2014   10:11:26 AM
  • 107
    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! - 3/4/2014   12:39:14 PM
    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! - 2/26/2014   7:57:49 PM
  • SCOTTB81
    I'm really unsure of Spaghetti squash. I do the majority of the cooking for my wife and I (since I work in the home) and though I want to try it, I just don't know. Does it have a funky taste like whole wheat pasta vs. white? Someone please help ease my mind. - 1/20/2014   4:52:07 PM
  • 104
    I use it in place of noodles mostly. I make baked spaghetti squash rather than baked spaghetti. I also like it with just diced tomatoe and shredded parmesan or italian cheese.
    One of the other great things about it is the long shelf life (uncooked). - 10/27/2013   1:11:30 PM
  • 103
    I have only used spaghetti squash in one recipe that was recently given to me and fell in love with it. I need to keep these great recipes and cooking tips. Might have to get one tomorrow. I am making meatballs in the crockpot. - 10/26/2013   7:40:38 PM
    I top spaghetti squash with bruschetta and grated parmesan cheese - 10/26/2013   4:59:21 PM
    Last week I made spaghetti squash with spinach-kale Romano cheeseballs (like meatballs) and a sauce with stewed tomatoes. I also have made it with crumbled ground chicken or turkey, butter-fried sage and a creamy sauce. But I am thinking of how to lighten up that recipe. I think butter, evaporated milk and lots of pureed spinach with nutmeg might do the trick... - 10/17/2013   10:24:29 AM
  • 100
    Spaghetti Squash with corn is my favorite - I use a little reduced fat Cheddar cheese and it is awesome! - 10/1/2013   2:55:33 PM
  • 99
    Wow, I love these low-carb suggestions. Thanks :)) - 9/30/2013   11:40:59 AM
    I'm saving this article. My kids love to pick a spaghetti squash when we go pumpkin picking. Maybe I won't be so intimidated by it and try some of these ideas. - 9/30/2013   9:03:52 AM
    Thank you...we got a spaghetti squash in our CSA box last week and my husband put it in the basket with the fall gourds thinking that was what we'd do with I can show him that it actually is a food! - 9/30/2013   8:34:53 AM
    Thank you...we got a spaghetti squash in our CSA box last week and my husband put it in the basket with the fall gourds thinking that was what we'd do with I can show him that it actually is a food! - 9/30/2013   8:34:53 AM
  • 95
    This article has perfect timing. I have a spaghetti squash on my kitchen counter! I was going to make a fresh chuncky tomato "sauce" with olive oil, garlic, and fresh basil! YUM! - 9/29/2013   11:36:41 PM
    I love them all. It's one of those veggies that's great to experiment with. - 9/29/2013   2:33:37 PM
  • 93
    While I absolutely love spaghetti squash I find that it doesn't really stick with me for long. About 1/2 hour after eating I am hungry. Definately have to eat other more dense food with this squash. - 9/29/2013   8:04:32 AM
    Another easy way to cook spaghetti squash is to poke a few holes in the skin and pop it (whole) with a two cups of water into the slow cooker on low for about eight hours. Halve it, scoop and serve it your favorite way. we like it with a light cream sauce and veggies or instead of noodles with Asian dishes. yum! - 8/9/2013   3:19:16 PM
  • ABCSOUP100
    I love spaghetti squash covered in thick meaty sauce! Another great alternative is zucchini. Using a vegetable peeler or a mandolin make the zucchini into thin strips (like linguine). To cook it just toss it around with a bit of oil and garlic in a frying pan.

    SO GOOD. - 8/3/2013   2:20:02 AM
    After being on weight watchers so many years ago and being forced to eat spaghetti squash as "spaghetti" way back then, I found that a food that probably tastes delicious fixed as a squash and not used as noodles to be detestable. I am so sad that WW ruined it for me. So I am not a huge fan of "spaghetti squash spaghetti." - 5/28/2013   8:56:28 AM
  • 89
    Being a diabetic I gave up spaghetti since day one of being diagnosed because of the carbs in such a small amount. One third cup of spaghetti equals one carb. I tried replacing spaghetti with spaghetti squash and was very happy with the results. I ended up making spaghetti squash with spaghetti and turkey meatballs. I recommend you try it if you have not already. It is a very healthy alternative. - 5/14/2013   2:39:13 PM
  • MAGGIE1052
    I haven't been able to eat pasta for a long time, but I really love spaghetti squash. I make a sauce of 2 lbs. very lean ground beef, 1 cup chopped onion, 1-28 oz. can diced tomatoes, 1-28 oz can crushed tomatoes, 2 cups salsa. Brown beef and onion together then add with rest of ingredients into a slow cooker. I put it on low for 12 hours. I ladle a cup of this over my cooked spaghetti squash and sprinkle with a tbsp of grated Parmesan cheese. - 4/20/2013   10:27:24 PM
  • 87
    Two of my favorite recipes are made with spaghetti squash, the first i concocted last night so i haven't written the recipe down yet but it was good: spaghetti squash in a white wine sauce with peas, broccoli, garlic, sun dried tomatoes and parmesan cheese. The other is a Mexican recipe:
    il.asp?recipe=2189289. - 4/8/2013   7:28:30 PM
  • 86
    Best use for spaghetti squash that I found... kids weren't thrilled with it when I served it as a spaghetti substitute. They ate it, but... I still had some unseasoned leftovers. Threw them in a pot of chili - and so help me, it was the best tasting chili! Similar to adding corn - but better. - 4/5/2013   9:57:41 AM
    I adore spaghetti squash! It makes great "noodles" for stirfry. - 4/5/2013   2:25:10 AM
    I adore spaghetti squash! It makes great "noodles" for stirfry. - 4/5/2013   2:25:09 AM
  • 83
    My favorite SS recipe is to take about 1 - 1 1/2 cups cooked and shredded spaghetti squash and add an 85g can of Clover Leaf sundried tomato & basil tuna, 2Tbsp chopped green onion and 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese. So good! It's such a versatile veggie - you can really add almost anything to it. Looking forward to trying some of these new ideas. - 4/4/2013   11:48:51 PM
  • 82
    I just mircowave mine its great fast and easy , thanks for the new ideas of how to eat it ! When im craving meat i eat it with spagghetti squash , when i am craving pasta I have it but with only veggies added , That way i get to satisfy both of my cravings just not at the same time !
    - 4/4/2013   11:07:53 PM
  • 81
    Love the idea with the garlic but whats better with this butter or OO....This looks reall good Sparkers : ) - 4/4/2013   9:42:42 PM
  • 80
    I like to mix it with marinara and roasted/sauteed zucchini, red bell pepper, onions, top it with cheese and bake until bubbly. It's super delicious and filling! - 4/4/2013   6:42:09 AM
  • 79
    May daughter steams cut spaghetti squash halves in the microwave and scoops out the flesh reserving the shells. She mixes the strands of squash with marinara sauce, piles it back in the shells, tops it with fresh mozzarella and parm and broils until the cheese melts. YUM - 4/4/2013   12:30:14 AM
  • 78
    I have not tried spaghetti squash. I will try it the next time I see it at the store. I would like to try one of the recipes listed. - 4/3/2013   11:05:24 PM
  • 77
    I made this for the first time 2 weeks ago and LOVED it!! I have 2 more in my fridge just waiting to be eaten :) - 4/3/2013   9:48:20 PM
  • 76
    I like to toss cooked squash with a tiny bit of butter, top with grilled fish and sprinkle on parm. Yummy! - 4/3/2013   8:31:11 PM
  • 75
    I *LOVE* using spaghetti squash instead of real pasta! In fact, I LUUUUUUUURRRRVE it!! I'll micro a full HALF squash, mix in some French cut green beans (frozen, not canned), some sliced mushrooms, about 1 Tbsp of sliced black olives (gotta go easy on those), 1/2 cup of my favorite tomato sauce, and 3oz of diced baked chicken, *OR* my fave: SPICY Italian Turkey Sausage. A light dusting of grated Parmesan cheese and I've got a *perfect* 200-ish calorie dinner which leaves me feeling full and sated. It's happiness on a plate!! :-9 - 4/3/2013   6:41:29 PM
  • 74
    Thanks for the reminder. - 4/3/2013   3:17:16 PM
  • 73
    Yes, spaghetti squash is a great choice. So too is shirataki noodles. These Japanese noodles are made from an asian form of yam and are found in the produce aisle's refrigerator section or on-line. They are especially GREAT with asian dishes. I made peanut noodles the other night for about 150 calories. A serving of shiritaki is only 40 calories. Without shiritaki noodles, peanut noodles is off liits for me--too many calories... - 4/3/2013   1:49:40 PM
  • 72
    Great idea, spaghetti squash. Thanks. - 4/3/2013   12:47:37 PM
  • 71
    I love spaghetti squash! The hardest thing about preparing it is cutting it up, then putting in the microwave! It's great with any kind of sauce, not exactly pasta, but it is tasty! We've been eating it for over 30 years, and used to grow it ourselves before they sold it in the local grocery. Great recipes! - 4/3/2013   12:09:52 PM
  • 70
    It's been years since we've eaten Spaghetti Squash...time to bring it back to our table!
    Thanks! - 4/3/2013   10:29:35 AM
  • EILEENS469
    Thank you so much. I love this type of squash but have not tried it in a while. Now I will again and often. - 4/3/2013   10:03:13 AM
  • 68
    I have never been happy with spaghetti squash, I may have to try a few of these recipes to see if my taste has changed. - 4/3/2013   9:29:25 AM
  • 67
    I want to try it with the creamy tomato and mushroom sauce and also the butter and garlic! I had never tried spaghetti squash until last year and a friend gave me some. I don't eat vegetables very well but I really like this one.
    I have used it as a base for a spaghetti squash lasagna and it is very very tasty. - 4/3/2013   8:44:53 AM
  • 66
    I have never found spaghetti squash in the UK :/ - 4/3/2013   3:46:14 AM
  • 65
    They used to be easy to get here in Australia, but lately have been all but impossible to find. I bought some heirloom seeds and grew my own this year and have kept the seeds for next year. We love it just as a vegetable with pepper and a little low fat butter spread, but it's great instead of pasta. Microwave is the easiest way to cook it, just microwave until it starts to string off the skin. - 4/3/2013   3:44:14 AM
  • JMBOX1
    I plan to try this when it comes into season. - 4/3/2013   2:15:40 AM
  • 63
    I hate to cook. - 4/3/2013   12:08:21 AM

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