I have a love/hate relationship with pasta. I love that it’s so easy to prepare, it’s very versatile, and honestly, I crave carbs. However, I hate what carbs do to my waist and thighs.

Thankfully, there’s a great alternative to pasta – spaghetti squash. This large yellow squash can satisfy your pasta cravings… guilt-free. It is a terrific low-cal/low-carb substitute for that pasta we all love, but try so hard to resist.

One cup of spaghetti squash is about 30 calories/7 grams carbohydrates, as compared to 220 calories/43 carbohydrates for a cup of spaghetti noodles. Plus, it’s rich in fiber and contains small amounts of every essential vitamin, particularly vitamin C, B-6 and potassium.

 
 

Why “Spaghetti” Squash?

Once you’ve cooked the squash, use a fork to separate the inside fibers into strands, which look much like spaghetti. It’s as versatile as spaghetti, too. Try using it instead of pasta for any of your favorite pasta recipes.

A Vegetable Never Tasted So Good

Spaghetti squash actually tastes great! The strands of ‘noodles’ soak in seasonings more readily than pasta, providing a deeper flavor. Always mix the sauce thoroughly into the squash to fully absorb the flavors.

How to Prepare the Squash

You can bake, boil or microwave the squash. I recommend baking it as boiling can make it mushy and microwaving too dry.

Preheat your oven at 350 degrees. Cut the squash in half, lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and place the squash face down in a baking dish with about ½ inch water. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until you can easily scoop out the strands.

You can prepare the squash a day or two ahead and refrigerate it. Mix the squash with any of your favorite sauces, or simply with butter, salt and parmesan as a side dish. Following are two of my favorite recipes.

Inside Out Quiche

Ingredients

  • 1 cooked spaghetti squash
  • 8 slices bacon
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • Pinch of sugar
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 10 eggs
  • 2 cups grated Jarlsberg cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup bread crumbs (panko, Italian or crushed Ritz crackers)
  • 2 Tbsps butter

*You can add in diced ham or crumbled sausage if you want more protein.

Directions

Cook the spaghetti squash as instructed above. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large sauté pan, cook the bacon. Once it is very crisp, remove the bacon and oil, leaving about 2 tbsps of bacon fat in the pan. Cook the onion with a pinch of sugar, ½ tsp nutmeg and s/p in the bacon fat until soft, about 10 minutes.

Mix the cooked onion and crumbled bacon with the spaghetti squash. Stir in the eggs and cheeses until well blended. Melt the butter in a dish, stir in the bread crumbs and sprinkle over the casserole.

Bake covered with foil for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes or until the top is golden brown and a knife comes out relatively clean.

Baked Italian Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1 cooked spaghetti squash
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 lbs ground beef or sausage (I often use turkey sausage)
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • S/P to taste
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes*
  • 1 bottle of your favorite marinara or tomato sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • ¼ cup red wine
  • ½ cup and ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (grated enhances the flavor more than shredded)
  • ¼ cup bread crumbs (panko, Italian or crushed Ritz crackers)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Cottage cheese*

*Optional

Directions

Cook the spaghetti squash as instructed above. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat and add onion and sugar. Cover and reduce to low, simmer for about 20-30 minutes until the onions caramelize.

Add the ground beef or sausage, breaking it up into small pieces. Cook until browned. Add the garlic, herbs and s/p and cook for an additional minute.

Add the marinara sauce to the meat and stir to combine. Add in the diced tomatoes and red wine. Let the sauce simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes (or more depending on how much time you have).

Mix the spaghetti squash, sauce and ½ cup parmesan in batches into a casserole dish.

Melt the butter and mix with the breadcrumbs and ¼ cup parmesan. Sprinkle the mixture over the top of the casserole.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the sauce is simmering.

Top with cottage cheese and parmesan cheese.

What is your favorite pasta or pasta substitute recipe? Have you ever tried spaghetti squash?

Stacey DehmerStacey Dehmer retired from a long career in marketing communications when her husband’s job took the family to Bangkok, Thailand. While there, she was an editor and frequent contributor to their expat community’s local newsletter. She loves to write, read, cook, hike, bike and especially spend time with her family.

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