Explore Spaghetti Squash
If they've never tasted it before, the first thing people usually ask me about spaghetti squash is, "Does it really taste like spaghetti?" To me, the answer is yes: a little like angel hair pasta because it is thin, fragile and stringy. But for others, the flavor might be too bland and need the addition of marinara sauce. Or, create a yummy dish like the one below!
I used to be intimidated by items like squash at the grocery store because I never knew how to prepare them the "right" way. If you are like I used to be, this is how easy it is to make spaghetti squash.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- While oven is preheating, use a chef's knife to slice squash in half lengthwise, from the top to bottom, keeping it as even as you can. Spaghetti squash is really hard and can be difficult to cut, so work slowly and carefully.
- Lightly coat the inside of the squash with olive oil and a dash of garlic powder, salt and pepper.
- Line a baking sheet with foil and place the squash on the sheet, halved sides down. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the insides of the squash are tender enough to be pulled away with a fork. Here is where you will be able to see the spaghetti-like strands. Such a cool vegetable, if you ask me!
- Scrape out the insides: Using a fork, gently scrape the flesh out from the vegetable. (Note: Don't scrape all of it for the recipe below, because you want to leave some to still give it the bowl shape.)
Spaghetti Squash vs. Pasta
- Both are low in fat and salt and provide fiber.
- Squash has antioxidants you won't find in regular pasta.
- One cup of pasta can have up to 182 calories; spaghetti squash only has 42 calories per cup.
- Pasta has 35.5 grams of carbohydrate per cup, while the squash only has 10 grams of carbs per cup.
- 1 medium spaghetti squash
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small red onion
- ½ cup fresh white mushrooms, sliced
- 5 to 6 mini bell peppers, diced
- 4 fresh carrots, peeled and sliced
- 2 tablespoons diced garlic
- 1 small zucchini, chopped
- 1½ cups fresh broccoli, diced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- Dash onion powder
- 1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup tomato sauce
- ½ cup pepper jack cheese
- Cook spaghetti squash according to directions above.
- While spaghetti squash is cooking, heat olive oil in a large pan. Add onion, mushroom, peppers, carrots and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes.
- Add zucchini, broccoli, salt, pepper, oregano, Italian seasoning, garlic powder and onion powder. Cook until vegetables become slightly tender and broccoli becomes bright green.
- Remove veggies from heat and add kidney beans and tomato sauce.
- By this time, squash should be ready to come out of the oven. Let it cool slightly and proceed to use a fork scrape out some of the insides. Leave some of the squash to keep the bowl shape.
- Mix spaghetti squash "noodles" and some of the cheese into the veggie mixture.
- Scoop the veggie mixture back into the hollowed out bowls and top with remaining cheese.
- Place back in the oven and bake for about 5 minutes or until cheese has melted.
Tawnie Kroll, RDN, is a Clovis, Calif.-based registered dietitian nutritionist. She has a passion for media, public speaking and freelance writing with an emphasis on nutrition and wellness. Read her blog, Kroll's Korner, and connect with her on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.
(Photo: Tawnie Kroll, RDN)