Deeply pierce the squash all over with your knife — give it, say, 10 good pokes. Put it on a paper towel in the glass dish and microwave for 10 or 12 minutes, turning it over halfway through cooking. It should feel soft when you press the outside.

After the ding, use an oven mitt to take the dish out of the microwave and let the squash rest for five minutes. Then, VERY CAREFULLY cut the squash in half lengthwise (through the stem end). There will be steam! And maybe hot liquid!

Scrape the seeds and slimy stuff out of the middle. (If you had a toaster oven, you could wash off the seeds, dry them, toss them with oil and salt and roast them for a crunchy snack high in zinc and Vitamin A. But of course you don't, because that would be against dorm rules.)

Use a fork to make the "spaghetti": Run the fork lengthwise through the flesh of the squash and it will separate into strands.

Top with the lemon-tahini sauce, almonds and shredded basil.

Lemon-tahini sauce

It's not low in fat or calories, but this dressing is full of nutrients and if you put a little bit of it on stuff that is low-fat/low-calorie (brown rice, steamed veggies), they will taste a lot better. Tahini, a paste of sesame seeds and oil that's the key ingredient in hummus, can be found in the natural-foods or ethnic foods area of most supermarkets.

Makes about 1/2 cup

Equipment: cutting board, chef's knife, measuring cups, mesh strainer, whisk, fork

1 fat clove of garlic (or two small ones)
1/4 cup tahini
one lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup hot water

Peel the garlic clove and mince it finely — seriously, as fine as you can get it. Dump it in your mixing bowl.

Wash the lemon in hot water, then use the fork to shred off some of the bright-yellow part of the peel (not the white part underneath) into long, thread-like bits of lemon zest. Chop these up — you should get about 1/2 teaspoon, but don't worry about exact measurements. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice through the strainer into the mixing bowl.

Add the olive oil and salt, then add 2 tablespoons of hot water and start whisking. It will get smooth and then suddenly, seize up into a solid grainy mess. Don't despair! Add a little more water and keep whisking. It will relax in a minute or so, having transformed into a silky, delicious, thick sauce. You can thin with remaining water if you like.

(recipe adapted from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Cooking)

Couscous with chickpeas, cranberries and feta

Couscous is actually pasta — tiny, fast-cooking grains of it. The usual method is to pour boiling water over the dry couscous, cover it and let it steam until all the water is absorbed, but we've adapted that technique for the microwave. The sky's the limit — couscous adapts to any flavor you throw at it, but rather than the rich, meaty version you might find at a Moroccan restaurant, try looking at it as a vehicle for vegetables.

Makes four servings

Equipment: mesh strainer, microwave-safe plate, 9-inch glass dish, mixing bowl

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