Spaghetti Squash! One vegetable I’ve always been wanting to try but never have. And all I can say is that I’ve been missing out for the past 30 years! It’s fun to prepare, easy to cook, very healthy, and tastes great in many dishes! And for those of you looking for a non-carb or gluten-free pasta alternative, it’s perfect!
You may be asking why I’ve waited so long to give it a try…mainly because I never saw it around much and had only tried it once at a restaurant a few months back. I also thought that you needed to have a special peeler to create the spaghetti-like squash strands, which seemed labor intensive. You can imagine how surprised I was when I walked into Trader Joe’s and they were sampling some cooked spaghetti squash. They were serving it with some meat-based marinara and Parmesan cheese. Excited to try it out, I asked to have a sample with just Parmesan Cheese. The lady preparing the samples said all she did was cook it in the microwave for a few minutes, cut it in half, removed the seeds, and scooped out the spaghetti squash with a spoon! The selling point was that she was doing it right in front of me! That day I found myself walking out of Trader Joe’s with a spaghetti squash in hand. If the cooked spaghetti squash tasted great with just some Parmesan Cheese, I could only imagine what other dishes I could make with it at home!
This recipe was adapted from Skinny Taste. When I saw the recipe, mac n cheese came to mind since I’ve made similar recipes before. Since my husband loves mac n cheese, this was a perfect dish to make, substituting the pasta for the spaghetti squash of course. I made a few changes to the original recipe. I added minced garlic, used sharp cheddar cheese, reduced the overall amount of cheese used, eliminated the vegetable broth, and increased the amount of milk. I found that by doing this, the right consistency and thickness of the sauce prior to baking is easier to achieve. Since there is a lot of spinach in the dish, a lot of water gets released while baking it in the oven. So I would also recommend creating a thick white sauce and baking it for a longer time so that most of the water boils off. For a gluten-free version, I’ve never been a huge fan of using corn starch instead of white flour to make a bechamel white sauce, so I used rice flour instead and couldn’t even tell the difference.
Even if there is some liquid remaining, the dish tastes amazing! I was skeptical about adding so much spinach, but it tastes great and adds a perfect green element to the dish. The sweetness of the spaghetti squash combined with the cheesy white sauce and leafy spinach created a flawless flavor that was completely finished by the end of the night. My 3 1/2 year old son loved it and my carb-loving husband was hoping I was not planning on having any leftovers, because he was planning on finishing the entire baked dish (which by the way, he did)!
You can bet that I will be cooking spaghetti squash in my house at least twice a month! I used to microwave my spaghetti squash to cook it, but have changed to roasting spaghetti squash in the oven. The flavor and texture from cooking the squash in the oven comes out much better than the microwave version. I’m excited to try making my favorite pasta recipes substituting spaghetti squash for the pasta. In fact, the next day for lunch, I had some leftover cooked spaghetti squash and decided to make some one of my favorites – spaghetti squash cacio e pepe (picture below)! My taste buds were in paradise!
Nutritional Information Per Serving (see disclosure below): 274.4 Calories, 15.0g Fat (8.8g Saturated), 328.5mg Sodium, 21.1g Total Carbs, 2.6g Fiber, 9.0g Sugars, 13.4g Protein
Nutritional Information Disclosure: I am not a nutritionist or a dietary specialist. I manually calculate approximate nutritional information (by the request of followers) through a free service provided by this website: http://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-calculator.asp where I enter in ingredients and serving size. I am unable to verify every ingredient, it’s source, and it’s nutritional information in their database, and therefore I DO NOT guarantee 100% accuracy of the nutritional information provided above.