Spaghetti Squash is one of the easiest, no-brainer meals you can make. And no, it doesn't taste like squash, nor is it disgusting. Below I will outline how to construct a nice Spaghetti Sqash meal and impress your parents into thinking you are some godsend to cooking, when in fact you sat on your ass all day.

Invitations: Invite your parents and your girlfriend over for dinner on a weekend. Aim for 6:00pm (for reference only). This means you are cooking for 4 (To prepare a smaller meal simply reduce sizes accordingly).

What you Need: Other than food (see below), you need about an hour and five minutes of time, an oven, a baking sheet/pan, and some nice dishes and wine glasses.

Preparation: Go and buy a Spaghetti Squash. Note, now, that I have italicized those words. I did not italicize them for nothing. There are many-a-squash out there, and most supermarkets will carry Spaghetti Squash. They are usually a dull yellow, and are pock-marked with little divots, brown spots, and lumps. Don't worry about these, they won't affect the goodness of your squash.

Squash selection should be simple. Grab one about the size and shape of a small watermelon - you are cooking for 4 people, after all. I would guestimate it weighs about 10 pounds. Most supermarkets sell head- or cantelope-sized spaghetti squashes; these are good for 2 servings or so. You can buy two of these if you wish.

Make sure your squash isn't excessively green (pretend you're shopping for bananas) and isn't soft in any places. It should be hard all around.

Spaghetti Squash is like Spaghetti; anything you'd put on Spaghetti goes well with Spaghetti Squash. You should buy a nice can of tomato sauce or cheese sauce, whichever you prefer; I usually slather on some Prego or other-such name-brand tomato-mushroom-onion-green pepper-meat sauce.

On your way through the chilled section, grab a pre-made bag of garden salad and a foil bag of garlic toast. A nice bottle of wine would go well too, and some salad dressings if you don't have some already.

Here in Canada, this entire meal costs $30 at Safeway, including the wine. You will probably have some salad left over, and you should definately have salad dressing and spaghetti sauce left over, so that $30 isn't all on this one meal's tab. Plus, that's $30 C.A.D., so it's more like $15-20 U.S.D.. Not much at all. Cooking: Everyone's expecting to eat at 6pm, and the squash generally takes an hour to cook. The longer you cook it, the more "mushy" it gets (like over-cooked spaghetti), but the less you cook it, the more raw it is and the less spaghetti you can reap from the fruit. Suit to taste, YMMV.

At about 4:50 turn on the oven to 375oF, and prepare the squash for cookage. Cut the squash neatly in half, width-wise (Right through the middle of the long-side). With a metal spoon or fork, remove the seeds and as much of the gooey stringy orange bits that suspend the seeds - much like gutting a pumpkin. Put the squash flesh-side-down on your baking pan and put it in the oven when it comes up to temperature (hopefully around 4:55).

At 5:40, put your garlic bread in the oven with the squash. They generally take 20 minutes to cook; suit to your taste.

At about 5:45, dump your salad into a bowl and put some nice salad tongs in there. Whip out your new bottles of salad dressing and tear off those annoying paper seals.

By 5:50 you should have the table all setup with candles and bottles of wine out, silverware, etc. - make it look fancy. You're trying to impress people here.

At or around 5:55 you should take your squash out of the oven. Careful, it'll be hot for a long time - it should feel soft to the touch, much like a baked potato. The squash that was touching the pan may be a little brown - this is fine and edible. If you don't like the way it looks, remove it.

With an oven mit, pick up the squash with one hand and a fork in the other. Scoop the flesh of the squash into a serving bowl - you will notice the flesh starts coming out in stringy strands! No work required, it's like a spaghetti plant. Just scoop scoop scoop away, and in the end you'll have a nice bowl of yellow spaghetti. If it looks a little mushy and scary, try putting a leaf of lettuce or some spices on it. It'll stay hot on it's own for a few minutes, so feel free to put the bowl right on the table.

Right at 6pm, throw the spaghetti sauce in the microwave (or keep it cold if you prefer, sicko) and take the garlic bread out of the oven and cut. Serve both. Break open the wine when the guests arrive.

That's it.

By 6:02pm, you should have a complete meal all laid out in front of you. It tastes delicious and impresses everyone - and the only effort you put in was scooping out the seeds (It is very annoying trying to scoop out those damned slippery seeds).

Alternate Cooking Methods: There is a plethora of different methods to cook spaghetti squash; Microwave, boiling, frying - basically, use your imagination. Heat up the squash to cook the flesh by any means possible and scoop it out. That's all there is to it. In my experience, however, baking it is the best - and by cutting them in half and putting them face-down drains out some of the fluid, reducing the mush-factor.

Just remember: When your parents say "My, where did you get this recipe from?", just think of me and say "oh, some guy on the internet."

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