Cheesy Baked Spaghetti Squash

I used to be a little wary of spaghetti squash. Its “diet food” reputation made me hesitate to view it as something to enjoy eating. Fortunately my desire to eat everything overcame my skepticism, because as it turns out, this squash can be really tasty. I started cooking it this way ages ago, on recommendation of one of the earliest posts of Edible Perspective, and never looked back.

Contrary to popular “diet” “wisdom” (yes, in this case I felt the need for two separate sets of sarcasm quotes), a marinara-topped bowl of spaghetti squash does not make an adequate meal. Sure, those are some nutritious ingredients to eat, but they’re lacking in calories. If that’s all you’re eating, you’ll be running on fumes before the meal is even over. In this dish, we have a foundation of vegetables with the welcome addition of whole-grain bread and cheese for substance. It’s not something I eat to lose weight, but it’s a really tasty dinner made from real ingredients. Basically, it’s my kind of health food.

Spaghetti Squash Prep

Spaghetti squash is really easy to cook in the microwave; just don’t forget to stab it a few times so it doesn’t blow up. Sometimes I prefer to roast the halved squash in the oven for extra flavor, but I find that in this dish it’s not worth the extra effort/dishes/electricity. Just nuke the thing!

This is a “one-pot wonder,” so to speak, and it’s great as a meal on its own. However, if you’re the kind of person with a stash of meatballs in your freezer… this wouldn’t be the worst time to bust them out.

Spaghetti Squash

Cheesy Baked Spaghetti Squash

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Yield: Serves 4

Cheesy Baked Spaghetti Squash

Adapted from Edible Perspective

1 large spaghetti squash (~2 lbs)
12-16 oz. tomato sauce (~1/2 of one standard glass jar)
3 oz. fresh spinach (3 big handfuls)
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 small/medium baguette, or equivalent bread
Dried herbs/spices to taste (garlic powder/basil/oregano), optional

Preheat oven to 375. Stab the spaghetti squash in several places with a sharp knife, place on a plate, and microwave 5-7 minutes until cooked through. When cool enough to handle, slice the squash in half. Spoon out the seeds, and scoop the stringy flesh into a 9-inch square baking dish. Mix in most of the tomato sauce (about 1/3 of a jar), the spinach, one cup of the shredded cheese, and a few sprinkles of herbs/spices if desired. Try to disperse the spinach evenly throughout the squash. After mixing, add the rest of the tomato sauce on top, to cover any exposed spinach. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice the baguette in half lengthwise and brush the surface with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and garlic powder, and cut the bread into roughly 1-inch chunks. When the dish is removed from the oven, turn on the broiler. Remove the foil, and top the dish with the bread chunks and the rest of the shredded cheese. Place it under the broiler for just a few minutes, until the cheese is melted and golden brown. Serve immediately.

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