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Healthy Spaghetti Squash Recipes for Home Cooks

Healthy Spaghetti Squash Recipes for Home Cooks

By Tina Popowski
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Photo Courtesy: Personal Creations/Flickr

If you're like many people, you might have a monthly rotation of dinner entrees that you regularly cycle through. While it’s great to cook and eat the things you and your family love, almost nothing makes weeknights brighter than getting creative with your dishes and enjoying new ingredients, recipes and tastes. And if you’re looking to really get bold with flavor, making in-season produce the focus of your meal is the way to go.

As winter lingers on and you turn your focus to trying new comfort foods that taste delicious, you might consider adding spaghetti squash to your repertoire. This hearty veggie softens up after you cook it, and its inner flesh easily turns into thin, ribbonlike strands that resemble the pasta it’s named after. That makes it a great substitute for pasta if you don’t eat gluten or are watching your carb intake. But you’ll also find spaghetti squash to be filling and comforting even if you’re simply looking for new ways to incorporate fresh produce into your dinner menus. These spaghetti squash recipes will help you do just that.

What Are the Health Benefits of Spaghetti Squash?

This vibrant veggie is a yellow winter squash — meaning that’s the time of year when it’s in season and tastes best — that's rich in potassium, beta carotene and vitamin A. It's also packed with fiber, making it a digestion-friendly vegetable that can keep you feeling full and satiated long after you’ve eaten it. The vitamin C in spaghetti squash helps your body keep your teeth and gums healthy. Plus, nine of its key minerals are ideal for boosting bone health.

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Photo Courtesy: LauriPatterson/Getty Images

A cup of cooked spaghetti squash has right around 40 calories, which makes it a weight loss-friendly alternative to traditional pastas. And because this vegetable is so versatile, you can prepare it in several ways that’ll have you enjoying new flavors as often as you’re relishing the fact that your weeknight dinners are fresher and healthier.

Roasted Spaghetti Squash

Ready to learn the basics of creating delicious spaghetti squash? This easy recipe from Skinnytaste only requires a few steps to complete, and it highlights the robust flavors of this vegetable while also creating a great base you can jazz up with other ingredients.

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Photo Courtesy: Westend61/Getty Images

To get started, you’ll take your spaghetti squash and prick its flesh all over using a fork. Once you've done that, you're almost halfway through the recipe! To wrap up the cooking process, nestle the squash halves into your Instant Pot and add a half-cup of water or chicken broth. After sealing the container, simply press the button for the slow cooker function.

Then, kick back and wait — or get your other dinner recipes in order. In a matter of minutes, you'll have a tender and delicious spaghetti squash to chow down on. Finish up your squash by letting it cool for about 15 minutes, splitting it in half lengthwise and shredding its flesh by removing it from the skin with a fork.

Asparagus and Mushroom Pesto Spaghetti Squash

Are you longing to turn your spaghetti squash into actual spaghetti? You can get it done in less than an hour and make a mouthwatering dish by following this recipe from Tasty. You’ll halve the squash lengthwise and scoop out all the seeds before brushing the flesh with oil. Then, you’ll roast it at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until the halves are tender. Again — and this is definitely an effective method for getting your squash ribbons the right size — you can use a fork to gently pull the cooked squash flesh away from its shell. The thin tines of a dinner fork typically create the most delicate, pasta-like strands.

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Photo Courtesy: Tasty/YouTube

While the squash bakes, it’s time to saute mushrooms and asparagus in a pan and make some pesto. The Ninja Professional Blender can help you whip basil, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, garlic, pine nuts and salt into a smooth and savory pesto sauce.

When the sauce is ready and the squash is cooked, mix the spaghetti strands, veggies and pesto together in a pan. For a prettier presentation, place the blend back into the squash shell and enjoy. And for even easier cleanup, skip shredding the squash. Add the pasta sauce and sauteed vegetable mix directly to the squash halves, which effectively serve as "bowls." Then, shred the squash flesh as you eat. Imagine enjoying a healthy dinner and not having to wash extra bowls after eating!

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Spaghetti Squash Lasagna With Broccolini

Lasagna is a classic dinnertime staple, but its preparation and cooking times can have you working on it for hours before it’s actually ready to eat. Spice things up — and make dinner prep easier on yourself — by creating lasagna using spaghetti squash instead. This delicious recipe from Eating Well will help you nail it.

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Photo Courtesy: Eating Well

To start things off, you’ll halve your spaghetti squash and microwave each section in a bowl of water to soften them. If you prefer having some hands-off cooking time, you can also arrange the halves in a baking pan and roast them. When they're cool enough to handle, use a fork to remove the softened squash and put it to the side. To create the filling, cook chopped broccolini pieces, seasoning them with pepper, salt, and garlic to taste. At this stage, you’ll also preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Next, it’s time to assemble the mini lasagnas. Combine mozzarella and Parmesan in a bowl; you can add other types of cheeses if you'd like, but be sure that they're grated and meltable. Fill the inside of each empty squash halfway with the cheese mixture. Then, add the cooked broccolini and spices. Finally, top with your remaining cheese and bake them until they’re golden brown.

Three Cheese Cacio e Pepe Spaghetti Squash

Sometimes you just need dinner to get a little cheesy, and this Food Network recipe will help you solve that mealtime dilemma. Blending the smooth, rich flavors of cacio e pepe, a classic Italian pasta dish, with wholesome spaghetti squash and three delicious kinds of cheese is one of the best ways to warm up with comfort food.

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Photo Courtesy: Food Network

For this dish, it helps to invest in a high-quality cheese grater. Otherwise, your cheeses may not incorporate into a sauce-like consistency as smoothly as they should. Additionally, you may want to spring for high-quality, fresh cheeses. Pre-grated Parmesan may be less time-consuming to prepare, but it lacks a certain creamy richness of the shaved, aged parm that isn’t mixed with preservatives or anticaking agents.

To make this savory, salty and absolutely delightful concoction, you'll halve, season and bake your spaghetti squash before using the fork-shredding technique to make your "pasta" noodles. You’ll saute the squash ribbons in oil in a hot skillet before removing the dish from the heat. After the noodles spend a few minutes cooling, toss with some mascarpone cheese and sprinkle your Parmesan and Pecorino cheeses on top. And don’t forget a generous sprinkling of black pepper — that’s the "pepe" that’ll put some pep in this dish!