It's summer! This time of year brings hot days and an abundance of fresh produce. I love summer food! Zucchini, spaghetti squash, tomatoes, peppers and so much more…it's a gardener's dream!
I love growing a garden each year. For me it's therapeutic: clean out the garden bed, turn the soil, add fertilizer, plant our plants (or seeds), water, weed, and watch nature at work.
I even have my kids help me do the work. At 10, 8 and 6, they are old enough to benefit from it in multiple ways. For example, I believe that they are old enough to be able to do the work and learn that hard work is important and yields wonderful end products. In this case, it's food that we eat as a family.
I also feel that gardening gives them such a rich education in where our food comes from in a natural way. Granted, this isn't large scale farming! However, it does allow them to see how food grows and what goes into growing good food. Certainly, the process of growing good food is much different from buying food at a grocery store! Each year I get some fascinating questions from my boys about the food and plants we grow. I also hear some very interesting connections that they put together.
Each year I get some fascinating questions from my boys about the food and plants we grow. I also hear some very interesting connections that they put together. It really makes for great conversations and teaching moments with my kids!
Another benefit the kids receive in this process is quality time with me doing something I enjoy. Not to mention that this is time spent outside: breathing fresh air and being active rather than being inside playing video games or watching tv! Fun, healthy and productive? A win-win, in my book!
Gardening has been a learning process for me – what grows best with what, what foods need more water or more sunshine or just more time, when can each food be harvested and eaten, etc? While the items in my garden vary year by year, every year we grow spaghetti squash.
I love growing spaghetti squash because it's really pretty easy and not too finicky (unlike tomatoes which can be very particular about their conditions). Plus, we usually get large yields from one plant. One year I grew 15 spaghetti squash on one single plant!
Now while growing 15 spaghetti squash might sound like too much to handle or eat, the great thing is that the squash stores well for long periods of time in a cool places (like the basement of your house). I have personally stored spaghetti squash in my basement for 2-3 months without any problems at all.
One thing to note about growing spaghetti squash is that the plant grows like a vine, with shoots going in multiple directions. It's helpful to have something to use to direct the shoots, like a fence or a garden border, etc.
If you have never tried growing spaghetti squash, give it a try this year!
Once you have grown (or purchased) a spaghetti squash, how do you go about preparing it?
When I first began preparing spaghetti squash for our family, I learned to bake it in the oven until it was soft enough to fork out the “noodles”.
Unfortunately, baking during the summer is not an ideal method for preparing much of anything; using the oven heats up the house, making it more uncomfortable as well as expensive to cool.
So what is a good alternative to the oven for preparing a spaghetti squash? Your handy dandy slow cooker! It makes prep a snap and clean-up is just as easy.
If you don't already have a slow cooker, I have and LOVE this one! It has latches that clip on
the lid to keep it closed so you can transport your food in the slow cooker without spilling it. This comes in extremely handy when you are going to a potluck. You can program the cooking time or use one of three available modes of cooking. It's affordable, and it's larger size is perfect for so many uses (such as a spaghetti squash!).
An added benefit that has completely sold me on slow cooking our spaghetti squash is that I don't need to cut the squash in half until after it's cooked. If you have ever baked a spaghetti squash, I'm sure you remember how tough it is to cut in half when it's raw! Yet cutting it open after it is cooked is easy because that thick, hard skin is soft after cooking.
Learning how to cook spaghetti squash in the slow cooker was a total game changer for me because it opened up so many new possibilities for dinner prep. It's also the very easiest way to cook this large vegetable. With hectic lives and busy schedules, I value any and all tricks that make getting everything accomplished a possibility.
Once you have your spaghetti squash cooked, you can use the “noodles” in place or in addition to spaghetti noodles with sauce or with the creamy sauce of your choice. You can also saute the “noodles” in a little butter and garlic to create an amazing side dish. Spaghetti squash is so versatile, there are tons of options!
Try cooking your next spaghetti squash in the slow cooker next time!
Comment below to let us know your favorite way to eat spaghetti squash!