Raise your hand if you love Italian food! I do, I do! Who doesn’t? All of that pasta with delicious sauce and cheese melted on top. Hungry yet?
Despite my love for Italian food I usually try to stay away from it, aside from the occasional treat. I usually feel too bloated and sluggish after eating all of those empty carbs. Anyone else agree with me on this one?
Enter spaghetti squash!My friends, if you have not tried spaghetti squash in place of wheat spaghetti with some pasta sauce on top, believe me when I tell you that you are missing out! The idea of using spaghetti squash in place of regular spaghetti is no new concept. It sounds strange, I know. In fact, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I finally decided to brave this whacky idea and pour some pasta sauce and melt some cheese on top of a bed of fresh-baked spaghetti squash. I instantly fell in love! The squash is tender, stringy, and has a mellow nutty flavor that lends a great background for all sorts of delicious flavors.
Bonus points for spaghetti squash: it’s low carb and higher in nutrition than traditional wheat pastas! Plus it’s a vegetable! Health food for the win!
Side note: Spaghetti squash freezes beautifully. I usually load up on spaghetti squash this time of year, bake a bunch at once and freeze it in proportioned containers.
Spaghetti squash will be delicious with any flavor you give it, but what I crave the most when I think of homemade Italian food is spaghetti with meat sauce.
This Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce doesn’t disappoint. It’s comforting, just as Italian food should be, hearty, and satisfying.
What I love about Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce is it is perfect for a weeknight meal, it’s easy to make, it comes together in 1 hour and only uses 2 dishes. That’s my kind of meal. Plus it is customizable. Don’t want to use beef? Swap it with ground turkey or chicken. I bet you already have most of the ingredients on hand. See, there are no excuses.
I hope you give this recipe a try. If you do, please don’t forget to leave a comment below and rate the recipe. It helps my recipes to be found by others, and it also makes my day. Enjoy, my friends!
- 2 spaghetti squash
- 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil, divided
- Salt and pepper
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 pound lean, ground beef (can sub ground turkey or chicken)
- 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
- Optional: ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon each, dried oregano, thyme, and basil
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 6.5 ounce can sliced mushrooms (I normally prefer fresh mushrooms but this is a time when canned mushrooms are an advantage because they don’t release moisture like fresh mushrooms do; the squash releases enough moisture)
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 25.5 ounce jar of your favorite marinara sauce
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ¾ to 1 cup shredded cheese (I used a combo of mozzarella and Parmesan, but you can use whatever you have on hand)
- Optional: 1 teaspoon fresh parsley, minced, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Using a sharp chef’s knife carefully cut each stem end off both squashes. Stand each squash up on its flat end and use the knife to carefully cut each squash down the middle, lengthwise. Use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds and guts of each squash. It’s okay if there are some stringy bits left, but most of it should be cleaned out. NOTE: You can reserve the squash seeds and make Pumpkin Seed Mayan Dark Chocolate Bark (ADD LINK), or simply roast them with a little oil and salt.
- Brush each squash half with the 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil. Sprinkle with a good amount of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Place on a rimmed baking sheet skin-side down. Bake for 20 minutes, flip the squash so they are flesh-side down and bake for another 20 minutes, totaling 40 minutes, or until the squash are fork-tender. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool enough to handle.
- Reduce the oven to 350 degrees, but do not turn it off.
- While the squash is baking make the meat sauce. In a large skillet heat the 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil. Add the onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the ground beef and break it up using a wooden spoon. Add the salt, pepper, and remainder of the Italian herbs. Cook the beef until it is no longer pink, about 5 to 8 minutes.
- Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the mushrooms, tomato paste, marinara sauce, and green pepper. Sauté for 5 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling slightly. Remove from the heat and taste-test. Adjust seasonings as needed.
- Returning to the squash, use a fork to “shred” the squash into stringy strands. For 2 to 4 servings, remove about ¼ of the squash into a dish and reserve it for leftovers. Then create a well in each squash half and place the meat sauce mixture in the middle of each squash. Add the cheese on top. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
- Garnish with fresh parsley and serve immediately.
- Reheat leftovers slowly.