I always find it kind of surprising that you can microwave spaghetti squash and still get the cool spaghetti strands. You can cook lots of different foods in the microwave, but it tends to give a different texture than roasting, boiling or steaming does. And the texture of a spaghetti squash is really important.
But you absolutely can microwave spaghetti squash. So if your oven isn't available or you just prefer the microwave, then it's a perfectly good way to do it. And it's just a little bit faster than baking, too.
It's all actually really easy, and there's no difficult trick to getting the strands. And you'll be in for a delicious treat, kind of like pasta but not quite. Mild enough to taste great with all kinds of sauce, but much lighter than pasta so you'll feel better after eating it.
Here we go!
Before you microwave spaghetti squash, you need to prepare the squash, get it nice and ready for cooking. How you do it is a bit more important for microwaving than it is for baking!
First things first. Washing the squash helps remove any bacteria or dirtoff the surface of the squash. Not that you'll be eating the rind, but when you start cutting it and handling it, you can transfer some stuff from the surface to the fleshy center.
To wash it, just scrub it under lukewarm water. Be sure to dry it carefully afterwards, so that it's not slippery. A slippery squash can cause some nasty accidents when you try to cut into it!
Once your spaghetti squash is nice and clean, you have two options: cut it in half or leave it whole. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages when you microwave spaghetti squash.
Whether you cut it or leave it whole is up to you. Personally, I think cutting it in half is the way to go. It's a bit annoying, but I'd rather cut 50 squashes than have a single one explode!
It's worth noting though, that whether or not the squash will explode seems to depend a lot on your microwave and how powerful it is – the higher the power, the more chance you have of getting squash wallpaper. So if you have a really powerful microwave, cut the squash in half – or cook it on medium or medium high power.
If you decide to cut the squash before cooking it, you're in for a little bit of work. But don't worry, every bit of time you put in now is time you save later – best to get the hard stuff over with!
You can cut the squash lengthwise or crosswise. Cutting it crosswise will give you longer strands, because the strands wrap around the squash instead of going end to end. You'll also have a better chance of fitting both halves in the microwave. I tend to like the shorter strands because they're easier to eat, but longer strands do look a bit more elegant, like real spaghetti.
To cut the spaghetti squash, use a big, sharp knife. Try to keep the squash as steady as possible. You can try to go straight through the squash. I'm not all that strong, though, so I just end up cutting halfway through, then turning it around and cutting through the other half.
Once you've cut the squash, scoop out the seeds. If they're stubborn and don't want to come out, just scrape the flesh crosswise with a spoon – the raw flesh is really hard, so you won't scoop out any flesh. You'll just get the seeds.
If you decide to microwave spaghetti squash whole, you just have one more little preparation step to take care of. Poke the squash 8 to 10 times with a sharp knife or a skewer. It'll allow some steam to vent out of the squash while it cooks, and will reduce the chance of it exploding in the microwave. And that is a very good thing!
Compared to preparing it, microwaving spaghetti squash is super easy. Here's how you do it:
Place the spaghetti squash in the microwave. If it's whole, just put it in as is. If you cut it in half, place each half cut-side down in a microwave-safe dish.
You can put a little bit of water in the dish to keep the squash from drying out. You don't need much, just 1/8 or 1/4 of an inch or so.
If you don't want to add water, cover the squash and dish with a bit of microwave-safe plastic wrap, leaving a vent for steam to escape. This'll keep in all the steam that the squash itself creates, and prevent it from drying out.
Microwave the spaghetti squash on high or medium high power 5 minutes at a time, until the squash is done.
Poke the squash with a sharp knife every 5 minutes. When the knife slides in pretty easily, the squash is done. Don't overcook it, or your strands will turn to mush!.
Turn the squash every 5 minutes. It helps the squash cook more evenly, especially if you don't have an automatic turntable.
It can take anywhere from 5 to 25 minutes to microwave spaghetti squash. It depends on how powerful your microwave is, how big the squash is, and whether or not you cut it in half.
Once you've cooked your first squash, you'll have a better idea of how long it takes in your microwave. So that next time, it's even easier to microwave spaghetti squash!
Now you know how to microwave spaghetti squash, and you're almost ready to get those neat spaghetti strands. But not quite ready. Let the squash rest a bit so that it has a chance to cool down. It'll make getting the strands out a lot less painful!
A whole spaghetti squash should rest for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Squash halves don't need to rest quite as long, because they're more exposed to the cooler air, and so they cool down faster.
And now for the spaghetti strands!
If you cooked your squash whole, you'll have to cut it now. Slice it in half lengthwise or crosswise with a big, sharp knife. Then scoop out the seeds.
The seeds should come out really easily, but be careful not to scrape off too much of the flesh.
Using a plain old dinner fork, scrape the sides of the squash.
Try scraping lengthwise. It goes against the grain of the strands, and it's easier to get them out that way. Crosswise works better at the two ends though, where the strands attach to the rind.
Scoop out the strands and place them in a bowl. You should be able to scoop out most of the flesh, until you just have a tiny little rind left.
You can scoop them out as you go to give yourself more room to work with.
And that's it! Your delicious spaghetti strands are ready. You just need a little sauce or some seasoning, and you'll have a tasty meal. Or, you can store the spaghetti squash strands. They'll keep in an airtight container in the fridge for weeks. Or for months in the freezer, although sometimes they'll just turn to mush after freezing – better for a purée.
That's all there is to it! Now you know how to microwave spaghetti squash. And as long as you avoid any squash explosion, it's easy, quick, and delicious!