RIP, Carbs: 7 Ways to Do Spaghetti Squash

source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dinesarasota/

source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dinesarasota/

Spaghetti squash: a vegetable that has confused many, satisfied more. Put ‘spaghetti’ next to the word ‘squash’ and you could have some suspicious eaters on your hand, but one taste of this fibrous veggie will surely change their minds. Part of the winter squash family, this fruit is a great alternative to pasta, and is packed full of many nutrients, including folic acid, potassium, vitamin A, and beta carotene. There are several ways to cook spaghetti squash, but however you do it — whether you roast it, bake it, boil it, or nuke it — once the fruit is cooked, its flesh falls away from its fruit in strands or ribbons, and that would be how it get its name.

The oblong-shaped fruit can seem intimidating, but we assure you it’s easier to cook spaghetti squash than it looks. All you need is a good knife and some patience, and you’ll be spooning those carb-free spaghetti tendrils into your mouth in no time. Once you have your yellow fruit and your knife, pick one of these appetizing recipes to try. Your family will barely notice that they’re not eating carbs, and you’ll have a new favorite fruit on your hands.

1. Pizza Spaghetti Squash

First, we’ll talk about a recipe we already highlighted when we discussed the 6 different ways you can take your pizza. Because this recipe for Pizza Spaghetti Squash is just too good to miss, and we don’t want to take any chances. Kristin from Iowa Girl Eats takes the yellow fruit and makes it the base of a pizza, and then it’s up to you to add on toppings galore. This recipe proves that spaghetti squash can be the substitute for not one, but two of our favorite kinds of cards (spaghetti and bread), and don’t say we didn’t warn you that you might be about to have a few spaghetti squash converts on your hands.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium-sized spaghetti squash
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper or whatever seasonings you like
  • 1 cup pizza sauce
  • shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees then line a baking sheet with foil. Pierce spaghetti squash once with a sharp knife then microwave on a plate for 1 minute. Cut in half with the same very sharp knife then scrape seeds out with a spoon and place cut side up on the prepared baking sheet. Mist or brush with extra virgin olive oil then season generously with salt and pepper (or whatever seasoning blend you want.) Bake for 40 minutes to an hour, or until the flesh shreds easily. Shred, leaving 1/4″ squash around the sides of the peel so it doesn’t collapse

Top each half with 1/2 cup pizza sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese, and pizza toppings then return to oven and bake for 8-10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Pizza toppings: pepperoni, black olives, ham, sausage, peppers, etc.

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rusty_clark/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rusty_clark/

2. Spaghetti Squash Lo Mein

Or, to go a different flavor route completely, you can try your hand at Spaghetti Squash Lo Mein from Chocolate Covered Katie, because spaghetti squash doesn’t only have the potential to be the star ingredient in Italian dishes — it also can be killer in Chinese dishes, too. In the case of Spaghetti Squash Lo Mein, the fruit is mixed with a number of savory vegetables, spices, and sauces to make it a dish no one will forget. The recipe yields about 5 main-dish servings, and it is also incredibly filling. That’s all thanks to the high fiber content of the spaghetti squash, so this dish has the potential to put you into a food coma you’ll really never forget.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup red pepper, sliced thin (150g)
  • 1 onion, diced (150g)
  • 1 (8oz) package sliced mushrooms
  • 1-2 carrots, sliced into coins or matchsticks (70-140g)
  • 2 cups broccoli florets (230g)
  • optional: shelled edamame for extra protein
  • vegetable oil for sautéing (or broth for a fat-free option)
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 scallions, sliced thin (and ends removed)
  • 1 large spaghetti squash or 16oz pasta
  • optional: 1 package bean sprouts (225 g)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 3 tbsp white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp hoisin sauce or vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce (or gluten-free alternative)

Directions

Cook the pasta or squash.

In an uncovered dish with a few tbsp water, steam broccoli 2 minutes in the microwave (or stovetop). Heat a large sauté pan to medium, and cook first 4 ingredients in sautéing liquid of choice. Then add the spices, garlic, scallions, salt, bean sprouts, and broccoli, and cook a few more minutes until the broccoli is soft.

Meanwhile, combine the last 4 ingredients in a bowl. Now mix everything together. Depending on the size of your spaghetti squash and your appetite, I’d say this probably makes around 5 main-dish servings.

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/39794839@N03/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/39794839@N03/

3. Spaghetti Squash With Meat Sauce

Next up: good old fashioned spaghetti with meat sauce, hold the spaghetti, add the spaghetti squash. You can do it, we promise. Your waistline will thank you. Use this recipe for Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce from Taste of Home and you won’t regret it. All you need to do is bake the squash, brown some beef, and add your seasonings. Pour on your Parmesan Cheese and you’re set. Healthy eating made easy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash (about 8 inches)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 can (28 ounces) tomato puree
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Directions:

Slice the squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Place squash, cut side down, in a baking dish. Add water and cover tightly with foil. Bake at 375° for 20-30 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork. Meanwhile, brown beef in a large skillet; drain. Add onion, green pepper, herbs and seasonings; saute until onion is transparent. Stir in tomato puree. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally. Scoop out the squash, separating the strands with a fork. Just before serving; stir 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese into the meat sauce. Serve sauce over spaghetti squash and pass remaining Parmesan. Yield: 6 servings.

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/doortoriver/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/doortoriver/

 4. Spaghetti Squash Casserole With Ricotta and Spinach

You can also go the casserole route, because what your guests can’t see in their dish can’t hurt them, and they’ll definitely be thinking they are eating spaghetti in this casserole over any kind of squash. Their insides will thank you. This Spaghetti Squash Casserole With Ricotta and Spinach from Real Simple is easy and comes together in no time. Requiring only spaghetti squash, cheese, spinach, one egg, and seasoning, this is the perfect weeknight, or weekend dinner, and it’s one of those dishes that is a lot less fancy than it looks.

Ingredients:

  • 1 3-pound spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 15-ounce container ricotta
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 cups baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella (1/2 pound)

Directions:

Heat oven to 400° F. Place the squash on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle the cut sides with the oil, place cut-side down, and roast until tender, 40 to 50 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the ricotta, egg, spinach, garlic, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper.With a fork, gently scrape out the strands of flesh and add to the ricotta mixture. Mix gently to combine.

Transfer the mixture to an 8-inch square baking dish, sprinkle with the mozzarella, and bake until browned and bubbling, 18 to 22 minutes.

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/missvincci/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/missvincci/

5. Spaghetti Squash Mac n Cheese

Next up, a dish that your Kraft-loving kids will go crazy for, and one you can feel good about serving. Spaghetti Squash Mac n Cheese exists, and it is just as good as it sounds. Follow this recipe from Fit Sugar and make it tonight. The lightened up version of this indulgent dish allows you eat your cheese, and get some nutrients, too, and who knows, you may be convinced to never go the Kraft route ever again.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • Canola oil spray
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, steamed
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • 1 tablespoon whole-wheat flour
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 1 cup reduced-fat cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional garnish
  • 1 teaspoon grated parmesan, optional garnish

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Cut spaghetti squash in half, and scoop out and discard seeds. Spray the center of both halves of squash with cooking spray, and place cut side up on a cookie sheet. Roast until tender when pierced with a knife, about 50 minutes.

Remove squash from oven, and let cool. Once it’s safe to handle, scrape flesh into a large bowl. Add in steamed broccoli florets to bowl and set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt ghee on medium heat and whisk in whole wheat flour. Add milk and whisk quickly. Turn heat down to low, add both cheeses to saucepan, and stir until melted. Remove from heat.Pour cheese sauce over spaghetti squash and broccoli mixture, and toss until all the squash is covered. Dish into four portions, and top off with red pepper flakes and extra cheese if you wish!

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thrivingveg/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/thrivingveg/

6. Spaghetti Squash With Chicken, Mushrooms, and Spinach

Throwing in a couple different flavors, we come to Cooking Light’s Spaghetti Squash With Chicken, Mushrooms, and Spinach. Because could there possibly be a more healthy sounding meal than that? We vote no, and you’ll dinner guests won’t even have to know. As soon as they get over the yellow tint and softer texture of their spaghetti squash tendrils, they’ll enter into the enchanted land of lightened up Italian food bliss, and once you’re there, there’s no point in going back to the unhealthy side of things.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (3.5-pound) spaghetti squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 2 slices center-cut bacon, chopped
  • 1 pound chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1.5 cups chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Poblano pepper
  • 8 ounces sliced crimini mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup cup julienne sun-dried tomatoes, packed without oil
  • 1 1/4 cup cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 6 ounces fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided

Directions:

1. Preheat broiler.

Cut poblano in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet; flatten with hand. Broil 5 minutes or until blackened. Place in a zip-top plastic bag; seal. Let stand 5 minutes. Peel and chop.

3. Reduce oven temperature to 400 °.

4. Cut squash in half lengthwise; discard seeds. Place squash halves cut side down in a 13×9-inch baking dish. Add water to measure 1/2-inch deep. Bake at 400 ° for 45 minutes. Turn squash over; bake an additional 15 minutes or until tender; cool. Scrape inside of squash with a fork to remove strands to measure 6 cups. Keep warm.

5. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add bacon to pan; cook until crisp. Remove bacon from pan. Cool and crumble. Increase heat to medium-high; sprinkle chicken evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add chicken to drippings in pan and cook 4 minutes; remove from pan.

6. Heat remaining 11/2 teaspoons oil over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan and cook 3 minutes or until soft, stirring frequently. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, reserved bacon, Poblano, garlic and Italian seasoning to pan; cook 1 minute. Stir in mushrooms and cook 4 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally. Add wine to pan and cook 3 minutes or until liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally. Add tomato paste and cook 1 minute stirring constantly. Add reserved chicken, chicken broth, tomatoes, and spinach to pan. Cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts, stirring constantly; stir in 1/4 cup cheese. Place about 1 cup squash on each of 6 plates; top each serving with about 1 cup chicken mixture and 2 teaspoons remaining cheese.

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/yahticom/

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/yahticom/

7. Spaghetti Squash With Pesto

And we can’t conclude this list without first talking about pesto, because although many flavors pair well with the lovable yellow fruit, one of the most complementary flavors is that of pesto. Better Homes and Gardens has the perfect recipe to help you not only cook up your spaghetti squash dish, but also your homemade pesto sauce. Coming together in less than 20 minutes, this dish is not only fast, it’s healthy to boot, and your dinner can be served all for under 300 calories.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash (about 3 pounds)
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh arugula
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese (1 ounce)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts or pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons water (optional)
  • Fresh basil leaves (optional)

Directions:

Pierce squash 6 or 7 times with a sharp knife. Microwave on 100 percent power (high) about 15 minutes or until tender, turning squash every 5 minutes. Cut squash in half lengthwise; cool slightly.

Meanwhile, for pesto, in a food processor combine arugula, 1/2 cup basil, cheese, oil, walnuts, garlic, crushed red pepper, and salt. Cover and process until smooth, adding enough of the water if necessary to reach desired consistency.

Remove and discard seeds from squash. Using a fork, remove the squash pulp from shell. Divide squash among shallow serving bowls. Top with pesto and, if desired, additional basil.

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