17 Jan2010

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I had heard quite a bit about “spaghetti squash” as a miracle low carb replacement for pasta. Toss with a light tomato sauce some said, and eat like a spaghetti al pomodoro… NOT. I have been easing into a more vegetable centric diet over the past few days, so when I spotted these spaghetti squash from Dizon farms at the Shoemart Grocery in Makati, I bought one with high expectations. Elizabeth Schneider, the author of “Uncommon Fruits & Vegetables” writes an uncommonly ambiguous or uninformative entry on this vegetable. Basically, she says it was popularized in the U.S. by Frieda Caplan, an L.A. based produce wholesaler. But its beginnings are hazy at best, related to all other squashes, and probably from Central America, this cucurbita pepo was generally unheard off until about 10-15 years ago in the U.S. Ms. Schneider thinks the varieties popular now are a result of breeding work done in Japan over three decades late in the last century…

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Split the hard squash open, remove the seeds and bake in a hot oven with some dabs of butter until cooked, some 45+ minutes, depending on the size of the specimen. Then take a fork and “shred the squash into what look a bit like thin palabok noodles. Cool, you first think. And add more butter to give it flavor. But it had hardly any taste! Maybe I got a bad version of it but it was bland, kinda crisp chewy, and generally kind of boring. I know folks might just be exaggerating when they say it is a good substitute for spaghetti noodles, but it simply is not. :)

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But before you dismiss this vegetable… it does only possess some 45 calories per CUP of cooked squash (sans butter) according to Ms. Schneider. NO WONDER IT DOESN’T TASTE LIKE ANYTHING. Arrgh. Why can’t lechon have only 45 calories per cup?!?

 

COMMENTS:

  1. millet says:

    i have always wondered if this was mushy,but you say it’s “crisp-chewy”? there is hope yet. :-) MM, could the secret be in the sauce?

    Jan 17, 2010 | 10:05 am

     
  2. Marketman says:

    millet, at first I thought it might be undercooked. But it wasn’t. It’s a weird crisp chewy, a bit like shark’s fin (which I haven’t eaten for years) but in longer strands. It isn’t horrible, it’s just not wonderful either. :)

    Jan 17, 2010 | 10:17 am

     
  3. Hershey says:

    Hey MM! Try butternut squash then? I think it has more flavor and sweeter :D

    Jan 17, 2010 | 10:23 am

     
  4. Susie says:

    MM, I’ve had wonderful spaghetti squash but have never had success with one in this bayan. We never served it with a tomato-based sauce, just with butter, grated parmesan and parsely. My very picky then toddler LOVED it.

    Jan 17, 2010 | 10:25 am

     
  5. Marketman says:

    Susie there appear to be more flavorful and colorful hybrids available in the U.S. and elsewhere. Not sure if the ones grown here are just unflavorful cousins… Hershey, yes, I have a couple of posts on butternut squash, which I love.

    Jan 17, 2010 | 10:27 am

     
  6. Luanne Shackelford says:

    I am trying to grow some here from seeds I brought from the States. I like it with a creamy sauce, chicken and parmesan cheese. My husband is a diabetic and we both watch our carbs, but not our good oils, so butter is just fine!

    Jan 17, 2010 | 11:41 am

     
  7. natie says:

    quess nothing like the real thing, MM..we just have to watch the portions–which is very hard to do with good pasta.

    Jan 17, 2010 | 1:56 pm

     
  8. emsy says:

    I guess this’ll be great in salads…

    Jan 17, 2010 | 3:26 pm

     
  9. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    MM, this was our substitute in making atchara (sans papaya) while in the U.S. and I’m glad that lechon has more than 45 calories per cup, or it would taste bland too!!

    Jan 17, 2010 | 3:39 pm

     
  10. proteinshake says:

    hi MM,
    Here in vancouver i buy the organic variety but the spaghetti squash just looks like the squash in your pics so it may well just be the same variety. I did notice that you have “washed” the squash under running water and also thought you may have overcooked it in the oven. I am just wondering if this is the reason you found it chewy and tasteless. I usually find the spaghetti squash “al dente” and rather tasty but not quite as tasty as a butternut, of course. I must admit I still miss REAL pasta but for a low carb option in our health conscious home, it is a favourite veggie.
    I usually cook each half of this squash in a Pyrex dish with the cut side up. I have the veg in about 1-2 cm of water. I then microwave this half squash (about the same size of the one in your pics) on HIGH for about 8-9 min, letting the steam do its job. I let it cool and then use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and then a fork to scrape out to get at spaghetti strands. i do not season the squash, nor add butter. I make sure I make a really chunky tasty homemade spaghetti sauce with lots of fresh tomatos and spices and turkey meat, with olive oil as the fat component . I add good parmesan cheese too. It’s always a big hit in our home. My hubby and I love it!

    Jan 17, 2010 | 4:41 pm

     
  11. proteinshake says:

    and oh, i forgot to add that i covered the Pyrex dish with plastic wrap so steam can collect and cook the squash. I am sure there are better more healthy ways of doing this without using plastic wrap… but I just found this one method from the internet.

    Jan 17, 2010 | 4:52 pm

     
  12. mymudcake says:

    You can always add it when making fresh lumpia!!!!!

    Jan 17, 2010 | 5:06 pm

     
  13. atbnorge says:

    I love my squash full of that distinct buttery taste. Kaya nga kapag nakabasa ako ng recommendations from writers saying mababa ang calorie nito at niyon…well, I think it out carefully. I’d rather have the load of calories than get bored with my meal. Mabuhay ang Zubuchon!!!

    Jan 17, 2010 | 10:46 pm

     
  14. Mari says:

    I’ve occasionally used spaghetti squash when I want to eat healthy. I cut them in half, bake them and then fork it out. I don’t remember it being chewy. Meanwhile I make a homemade tomato sauce with fresh basil and mix it in, top it with grated pecorino romano or parmigiano cheese and sprinkle a lit of chili flakes. On the side of course is garlic bread. =D healthy right?

    Jan 18, 2010 | 3:20 am

     
  15. Skunkeye says:

    I think perhaps the quality of taste/texture of spaghetti squash in the Philippines is different. I don’t recall ever having that kind of squash there and we cooked many western meals at house and spaghetti squash is a long-time, multi-generational staple in our family.

    In the US, from my experience (buying from supermarkets of varying quality and various farmers’ markets as well as growing my own), its very hard to find dud spaghetti squash. It’s also extremely economical and healthy. This kind of squash is extremely easy to grow in the DC-MD-VA region – if I had more space (and light) in my city garden I’d be growing it every year. some summers its so bountiful that the vendors in the farmers’ markets practically give it away. This season we had an unusual amount of rain in the early season so squash and tomatos were pricier.

    I’ve always been taught to cook the squash whole after piercing the shell several times with a fork a in an uncovered baking dish at 375 for an hour or so until until flesh is tender. I split and removed the seeds afterwards – which may be more cumbersome as the insides are hot – but it yields very favorable, al dente results. I personally don’t mind a few seeds left in (they are rendered relatively soft) as I’m not interested in passing it off as real pasta but for presentation purposes perhaps…

    Jan 18, 2010 | 5:11 am

     
  16. Skunkeye says:

    Oh, I forgot to say, after the squash is cooked and split, take as much seeds as you can get out with a spoon or your hands, then scrap of the meat with fork – this usually helps sift out the seeds.

    Jan 18, 2010 | 5:20 am

     
  17. esquire says:

    What a relief! I thought I messed up the spaghetti squash I bought in SM too. I tried the serving suggestions in the sticker they attached to it but even if LOTS of parmesan cheese, it didn’t have much taste

    Jan 18, 2010 | 10:14 pm

     
  18. Marketman says:

    Hmmmm…. it MUST be that the locally grown ones are turning out as good as they could… I have heard good things about this squash, so I will have to try it when on a trip to the states to see what it is supposed to be like… Thanks everyone for those tips on how to cook it.

    Jan 19, 2010 | 7:54 am

     
  19. faithful reader, United States says:

    I wonder if it would be good for ukoy?

    Jan 21, 2010 | 11:37 am

     
  20. Cheryll Ann says:

    I actually saw some spaghetti squash at Lucky Supermarket, I wanted to buy it as I saw Rachel Ray, use that on one of her shows but I did not wanna bake it and all and no one to clean up after me, lol lol!

    Oh well I’m going home tomorrow and since it’s available in the Philippines, I’ll buy it when I go back home and I can just have the maid clean up my mess, ehhehehehe.

    Jan 21, 2010 | 4:21 pm

     
  21. lettucedude says:

    Good day MM! I’d like to ask if there was a bitter aftertaste while chewing the spaghetti squash strands?

    I’d like to share the way how we prepare it at home by first removing the seeds and boiling half the squash after which we extract the strands with a fork then top it off with bolognese sauce!

    Jan 23, 2010 | 9:33 am

     
  22. haopee says:

    I just checked on your post. It’s pretty funny about the lechon. Oh well, there goes my hope of cooking spaghetti squash.

    Sep 5, 2011 | 10:53 am

     
 

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