I wasn’t too thrilled about seeing more and more spaghetti squash recipes all over the internet. I’d tried it before, but was always disappointed in the bland flavor. We’re huge squash and pumpkin fiends in my family; my standards are high because I know how delicious an exquisite kabocha squash is with nothing more than some olive oil. After reading dozens of spaghetti squash recipes on the internet lately, I decided I needed to give the flavorless black sheep of the squash family another try. I’m glad I did.
My mistake was looking for the flavor to come from the squash itself. That’s not going to happen. This ain’t no hubbard. But, what the spaghetti squash offers is an excellent foil for all kinds of other tastes. If you haven’t cooked with spaghetti squash before, never fear. I’ve set out step-by-step instructions with photos to help guide you through the process. You can cook spaghetti squash in the oven, but it takes forever. I cook mine in the microwave with a method that I think is very easy.
In this recipe, I lightened up a baked spaghetti dish by substituting fiber-rich spaghetti squash for plain old noodles. My husband timidly made himself a very small portion, took a bite, and said that it was “actually very good.” I don’t often get endorsements more glowing than that when I swap out my husband’s favorite foods for vegetables!
Italian Spaghetti Squash Bake
You will need:
- 1 large (~4 pound) spaghetti squash
- 1/2 cup marinara sauce
- 1/2 cup ricotta
- 1/3 cup pesto (I used sundried tomato pesto)
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 3 tbsp. thinly sliced fresh basil
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 cup grated mozzarella
- 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Prepare the spaghetti squash by cutting it in half, lengthwise, and scooping out the seeds and fibers in the middle with a large spoon.
- Take one of the halves and set it cut-side facing up on a microwave-safe plate. Fill the cavity with water (no more than 1/2 a cup) and top with the other half of the spaghetti squash (i.e. at this point it will look like a “whole” squash again).
- Carefully transfer to microwave and cook for 10 minutes. Check on the squash and continue cooking until the top half is soft to the touch. It took about 18 minutes for mine to be cooked.
- Remove squash from microwave and carefully lift the top half. Drain any remaining water.
- Scoop out the strands from the spaghetti squash with a fork or large spoon and place in a large bowl.
- Toss with remaining ingredients, but reserve about half of the mozzarella.
- Transfer to a large casserole or other oven-safe dish.
- Bake for 20 minutes, until the mixture is hot and bubbling, then top with remaining mozzarella and cook for five additional minutes.
- Serve hot. Leftovers keep for about a week stored in the fridge. I added a bit more marinara every time I reheated a bowl to keep the flavor strong.