Oven Baked Spaghetti Squash

So very easy to make and so deliciously tasty, Oven Baked Spaghetti Squash might very well become your favorite side dish or pasta replacement! I remember when I was a kid , I used to totally despise spaghetti squash... I wasn't really big on squash period back then, but spaghetti squash, I particularly didn't care for ; I found it to be bland, tasteless, boring and I also wasn't a fan of its somewhat strange texture. Mostly, though, I think that I disliked it mainly because it was used as a replacement for one of my favorite food item s in the whole wide world: pasta! But now that I'm all grown up, I've completely changed my mind about this fascinating vegetable . Not only do I ADORE its very unique, stringy nature , but I'm totally in love with its delicate, slightly nutty and buttery flavor. Still, I rarely use it as pasta replacement , though. I much prefer to enjoy it as is, in all its glory! I like to cook my Spaghetti Squash pretty much the same way I do my famous : roasted slowly in a hot oven until its flesh caramelizes a little bit and turns a beautiful shade of golden brown . Not only is the method super easy , but it also gives the squash a wonderfully delicious flavor , not to mention strikingly jaw dropping and mouthwatering good looks! The only real tricky part, if there is one, is in slicing that squash open ... but even that, you'll see, isn't all that hard at all! To make the "Squash Halving" operation a complete success, there are a few very simple rules to follow , the first one being you must use the proper tool for the job. A sharp chef knife is the only way to go! Next, you want to make sure that you stab the gourd right in its center first, as opposed to trying to slice it right from the get go. Just hold that blade perpendicular to the squash and then go ahead and shove it straight down the center of the squash. Then, pivot that blade and lower it into the squash to do the actual slicing. After you've made one cut, turn the squash around and repeat the exact same thing on the other side, then roll it onto itself and repeat again on the opposite side. If you find that the little stub is too hard for you to slice across , don't worry about it and just leave it in place: it should rip right out once you've been completely around the squash with your knife. Time to scoop out the guts and seeds . To do that, I like to use one of those . They're super sturdy and their sharp edge really digs easily into the flesh. Then, place your squash halves **onto a ** and drizzle them with a generous amount of extra-virgin olive oil , then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Finally, turn the squash flesh side down , add about a half cup of water to the pan and bake in the oven, uncovered, for about 60 to 75 minutes , until softened and the flesh can easily be pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. Check from time to time to make sure the squash isn't burning . You want the water to eventually completely evaporate , which will allow the squash to caramelize, but you don't want anything to burn. Add a little bit more water if you feel things are getting a tad too dry and dark... «Dark metal pans absorb and spread heat more quickly and efficiently than lighter-colored ones, which plays a big role in the browning and caramelizing process. If you didn't have a dark roasting pan, crank up the oven heat to 425°F and make sure to keep an extra close eye on the water situation.» When your squash is baked to your liking, take it out of the oven and let it cool for a few minutes , then flip it over and gently scrape the flesh with a fork to form long strands that look just like spaghetti. There isn't even a special technique to do that... it all happens naturally , you'll see! All that's left to do now is serve your squash while it's still piping hot , garnished with a little bit of freshly chopped thyme, or any other herb that you prefer. *And maybe a sprinkle of and a drizzle of evoo, for a little bit of added flavor and richness, why not?* *Editor's Note: This post was originally published in January of 2017 and has since been updated with better instructions and pictures. A few minor modifications to the original recipe may also have been made.

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