Kalyn's Kitchen

How to Cook Unripe Spaghetti Squash as a Summer Squash

How to Cook Unripe Spaghetti Squash as a Summer Squash is for vegetable gardeners who have young unripe spaghetti squash in the garden. This will answer your questions if you wonder what to do with them! 

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This year I grew spaghetti squash for the first time in my tiny garden space, and it reminded me how I used to LOVE young unripe spaghetti squash back in the days when I had a bigger garden. And I know gardening season will be winding down soon and I thought people who have a surplus of small spaghetti squash that aren’t going to mature might like to try my method for How to Cook Unripe Spaghetti Squash as a Summer Squash! This is something I have done for many years (whenever I could get my hands on unripe spaghetti squash).

Squashes are divided into winter squash (which ripen late in the season, can be stored through the winter, and have hard outer rinds) and summer squash (which have a soft outer skin and can be eaten rind, seeds, and all.) Zucchini is the most famous summer squash of course, but when this recipe refers to cooking Spaghetti Squash as a summer squash it means cooking it when it’s young and has a soft skin.

Many years ago I was introduced to this way of eating spaghetti squash by a former boyfriend who grew it in his garden, and he taught me about picking the squashes when they were young and green and the skin could be pierced easily with your fingernail, and then simply boiling them and serving as a vegetable with lots of butter, salt, and pepper. It wasn’t until many years later that I learned to leave the spaghetti squash on the vine until the skins turn yellow, then bake or microwave the squash so the strands pull apart into a kind of vegetable “spaghetti” which is also tasty in a different way. I like spaghetti squash as a winter squash, but I am absolutely crazy about spaghetti squash when it’s cooked as a summer squash.

Of course, you’ll never be able to find young spaghetti squash like this in a regular store, so you’ll probably have to grow some in your garden or find a friend who has a garden who’s willing to share if you want to try this recipe. I haven’t ever run across another gardener who had tried this, so I hope some of my readers will be sure to try it if you get a chance. Trust me, you will love it! In fact, I just ate some of my leftovers while I was typing this up!


How to Cook Unripe Spaghetti Squash as a Summer Squash:  process shots collage

How to Cook Unripe Spaghetti Squash as a Summer Squash: 

(Scroll down for complete recipe including nutritional information.)

  1. Most young spaghetti squash is light green, but in the second photo you can see I got one that was darker green.
  2. Choose young, small spaghetti squash with skin that can be easily pierced with your fingernail.
  3. Wash the outside of the squash well.
  4. Cut off both ends, then cut the rest of the squash up into pieces about 2 inches square. (If your squash has noticeable seeds, be sure they are tender.)
  5. Bring water to a boil, add salt, and add the spaghetti squash and turn heat to medium.
  6. Simmer the spaghetti squash until it’s tender (but not mushy), about 10-15 minutes or until the squash is easily pierced with a fork.
  7. Put cooked squash into large colander and let it drain well, for 5 minutes or more. It’s important not to rush the draining time.
  8. After squash has drained about 5 minutes, use an old-fashioned potato masher (affiliate link) to coarsely mash the squash and let drain 2-3 minutes more.
  9. Put spaghetti squash into a serving bowl and serve hot, with plenty of butter and salt and freshly ground pepper.
  10. And trust me, this is not a time to skimp on the butter. I hope you try it if you get a chance!

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How to Cook Unripe Spaghetti Squash as a Summer Squash

Yield 6 servings
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

How to Cook Unripe Spaghetti Squash as a Summer Squash is for vegetable gardeners who have squash on the vine that aren't going to have time to ripen!

Ingredients

  • 2 young spaghetti squash (be sure the skin is soft enough to pierce with your fingernail)
  • 4 T butter to flavor the cooked squash (see notes)
  • salt for the water and for seasoning the cooked squash (to taste)
  • fresh-ground black pepper (to taste)

Instructions

  1. Choose young, small spaghetti squash with skin that can be easily pierced with your fingernail. (The color of the squash doesn't always tell if it's young, so use the fingernail test.
  2. Wash the outside of the squash well since you will be eating the skin.
  3. Cut off the stem and blossom end and cut the rest of the squash up into pieces about 2 inches square.
  4. If your squash has noticeable seeds, be sure they are tender.
  5. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a little salt, and add the spaghetti squash, and turn heat to medium-low.
  6. Simmer the spaghetti squash until it's tender, about 10-15 minutes or until the squash is easily pierced with a fork. Be careful not to overcook or it will be mushy.
  7. Put cooked squash into large colander and let it drain well, for 5 minutes or more. Don't rush the draining time, because there's a lot of moisture in the young squash.
  8. After squash has drained about 5 minutes, use an old-fashioned potato masher (affiliate link) to coarsely mash the squash and the skin and let it drain 2-3 minutes more.
  9. Put spaghetti squash into a serving bowl and serve hot, with plenty of butter and salt and freshly ground pepper.
  10. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for a few days and reheat beautifully in the microwave or in a pan on the stove.

Notes

I use a generous amount of butter; use more or less to taste.

I doubt that unripe spaghetti squash is in nutritional databases, so personally I suspect the carb count is lower than is indicated here since it's likely based on ripe spaghetti squash.

This recipe given to Kalyn by a man named Art who taught her to cook spaghetti squash this way many, many years ago!

If you make this recipe I'd love to hear how it turns out. Leave a star rating or share on social media with the hashtag #KALYNSKITCHEN, thanks!

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Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
Spaghetti Squash cooked as a summer squash is a great dish for low-carb and low-glycemic diet plans; use the amount of butter that works for your personal eating plan. This should be suitable for any phase of the South Beach Diet, although South Beach would not recommend using butter.

Find More Recipes Like This One:
See Cooking for Gardeners for more ideas for cooking garden veggies! Use the Recipes by Diet Type photo index pages to find more recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

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    25 Comments on “How to Cook Unripe Spaghetti Squash as a Summer Squash”

  1. It’s true that they cross pollinate, but that doesn’t change the current plant’s fruit… it affects the seeds of that fruit, so unless you take measures to isolate flowers, your saved seeds for next year are fairly likely to be a cross of squashes. The giant green spaghetti squashes seem to be normal from what I can gather… they just don’t sell those ones in the store so we’re not used to seeing them. I grew a spaghetti squash plant this year and half of them were the mottled dark green kind that were HUGE and half were the regular yellow kind. It was technically two plants that had been potted together when I received them, so I don’t know if the two kinds came from the same vines or if one vine was the green kind and the other was yellow. They actually appear to be on the same vines. It’s very interesting. I haven’t actually tried the green ones yet (I don’t typically grow spaghetti squash, but maybe I will now that I’ve read your post!) but my research tells me they are normal spaghetti squashes too.

    • I agree spaghetti squash can be green or yellow in color on the outside. But in this post when I say “green” I am talking about young squash that isn’t ripe yet, not necessarily the color of the squash. So this is a method for cooking unripe squash no matter what the outside color of the squash is. I hope you do try it, this is so tasty!

  2. So glad you enjoyed it! This recipe makes me miss having a bigger garden; I don’t have room for spaghetti squash any more!

  3. We tried the green/unripe Spaghetti Squash and it was delicious. Milder than Zucchini and sweeter. Hope to have it again this way….I would bet it is lower in carbs as well….

  4. We are growing squash for the first time this year. One of our plants had a tag that says spaghetti squash, but when the squash was quite large I decided they must have made a mistake. So I brought it in. It is approximately the size of a football. It is dark green, just like the one in your photograph. I can’t imagine how much bigger it would have become if it had stayed in my garden until it turns yellow. Maybe it grows and grows, stops growing and then turns yellow? Anyway, I’m going to try cooking it up the way you’ve described here and I can’t wait to see what it tastes like. I’m also going to try cooking up some of the blossoms, as I don’t need as many squash as this plant seems prepared to give me!

    • I know there are all types and colors of spaghetti squash, and they can get quite large. Squash is also famous for cross-pollinating though, so if you have other squash varieties growing nearby, it might have cross pollinated with the spaghetti squash. I hope you let me know how it turns out!

  5. About 6 months ago, I started burying my kitchen scraps in my raised bed to add nutrients into the soil before I planted in the spring. Once the weather warmed up, I noticed I had a bunch of squash plants coming up all on their own, so I just let them go. I was curious to see what had volunteered in my garden. Well, not too long after they started to grow I noticed these oblong squashes coming in. I thought that maybe they were butternut squash, but they looked pretty tasty so I picking them and sauted them with onion and garlic in butter… YUM! Tasted just like a zucchini. Come to find out, they are spaghetti squash and many of them are getting pretty darn big, but there are also lots of little guys. I’m so glad I discovered by accident, that they can be eaten when they are either mature or immature. They will feed my family all through the summer and into the fall and winter.

  6. Thank you so much for this post! I am currently growing Spaghetti squash (which i love as a winter squash) and am really looking forward to eating it out of my garden. BUT i am in a temperate climate and have a relatively small garden, and I am worried the plants will not get the conditions (climate or space) to develop optimally and to successfully grow fully mature squash.  I am so relieved to see I will not be wasting precious nutritional opportunities nor garden space on these glorious plants.  Thank you! 

    • Julie, I don’t think many people know it can be cooked this way, but I have done it for at least 30 years, and absolutely LOVE it! I hope you enjoy it too!

  7. I’ve never heard of this before. We have some spaghetti squash plants that are dying with young spaghetti squash on the vine. I’m so happy this recipe arrived in my inbox today! I’m looking forward to trying it.

    • Oh good, hope you like it as much as I do. I know this is only useful for a very small group of people but I’ve been making it for 30+ years now and always try to grow spaghetti squash just for this reason!

  8. I did this earlier this year as well to see how they would eat. they were great! the flavor, even raw, is tender and sweet. Lightly cooked or sautéed in a stir fry works too!

  9. It looks amazing! I've replaced the usual pasta and rice with spaghetti squash, it works great! 🙂

  10. Kayln,
    your spagetti squash looks so beautiful! Just adding butter sounds great!

  11. Sher, I hope you can find some green ones. Maybe I can mail you one??

  12. I also have never seen spaghetti squash fixed this way! It tastes like young corn? OK, I’m going to buy one and cook it just like your recipe. Thanks.

  13. Glenna, I don’t think many people know about this.

    Mona, I missed you. Glad you’re back!

    Jennifer, I know what you mean. They seem to multiply very quickly don’t they!

    Christine, you might be able to get a farmer to pick them early for you, but I haven’t ever seen the young squash in the store.

  14. This is something I didn’t know. Thanks for the information and the recipe – it looks so good! I’ll ask around at our farmers market to see if I can find some.

  15. So good to know! I am always running out of ideas for what to do with the ever-plentiful squash. Thanks, Kalyn!

  16. wow kalyn, never knew the difference. i’ve been enlightened, thanks for the info and the eye candy!
    🙂 hope you’re doing well. it’s been a while. i’m such a slacker!

  17. I learn something new every day. I’ve love spaghetti squash but had no idea you could eat the whole thing if it’s picked young enough. Looks delicious!