Spaghetti Squash Casserole

What makes pasta dishes so delicious? Is it really the combination of sauce, meat, and cheese over noodles? Or is it the comforting feeling that we get when we take a bite, bringing us warmth and a flood of memories of our childhood or the holidays?

There’s a big misconception that healthy food tastes bad, and that it’s hard to make. I don’t think that baking a spaghetti squash is any more difficult than cooking noodles – in fact squash requires less attention, doesn’t need to be stirred, and can be made while you’re using the stove to prepare other things. It’s just that one recipe you know, the other you don’t – but that’s easy to change!

This Spaghetti Squash Casserole is simple, delicious, and will warm you up even on the coldest of deep fall nights. It takes less than an hour to prepare, and can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days, making it the perfect thing to meal prep for the week! You can also eat more of it without any of the guilt.

Never worked with Spaghetti Squash before?? Here is how to pick the perfect squash. Your spaghetti squash should be bright yellow in color. If it is orangey in coloer, it is overripe. If it is greenish, it’s not ripe enough. Also there should be no dark spots, easy to puncture skin, or bruising, which would indicate it is over ripened.


Ingredients:

  • 1 medium to large spaghetti squash
  • 3 cloves of fresh garlic, diced
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • 1 small red pepper, diced
  • 2c spinach, chopped or whole (your preference)
  • ½ tsp. each of Oregano, Basil, and Thyme, either full leaf to chop or dried is ok
  • Olive oil & coconut oil (coconut oil has a higher bake point and is safer for use in the oven)
  • 1c diced tomatoes (if tomatoes aren’t your thing, sub for any veggie you’d like!)
  • 1c nutritional yeast (if having dairy add 1c fresh grated mozzarella)
  • ½ tsp. black pepper; ½ tsp. pink sea salt
  • 1c black beans cooked in advance, or canned or 1lb organic ground turkey/beef/chicken

Instructions:

  • Preheat Oven to 350 Degrees
  • Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds
  • Coat baking sheet with coconut oil
  • Place squash face side down on the baking sheet; if faster bake time desired, can puncture skin with a fork
  • While oven is preheating, heat olive oil in a medium sized skillet or pan
  • Add onions and garlic on medium heat and allow to brown (about 3-4 minutes)
  • Add in the beans or ground meat, tomatoes, peppers, oregano, basil, and thyme, and ½c of nutritional yeast*, lower heat and cover
  • Add squash to the preheated oven and set timer for 15 minutes
  • When timer goes off, check on the ingredients cooking in the pan – everything should be getting soft; if there is a large amount of liquid in the pan from the beans leave the cover off but leave on low heat to prevent burning. Add in the spinach and mix together
  • Check the squash, skin should be getting softer and you will notice some liquid bubbling around the edges
  • Once again, set timer for 15 minutes
  • After 30 minutes, your mixture should be finished; if there is still liquid, can either raise heat to cook it off, or drain out to save as sauce! Shut off burner, and add in another ¼c nutritional yeast, stirring well
  • When squash skin is squishy (you can usually see it start to cave in, or with an oven mitt, poke the skin to feel it easily give), you can turn off the oven and remove the squash
  • Turn over on it’s back to allow the inside to cool for a few minutes
  • Using a fork, begin to scrape the inside of the squash so strings form and look like spaghetti! Scrape out as much as you can from each side, leaving the skin in tact and transfer into a mixing bowl. The squash is made of mainly water, so you may want to squeeze the squash and drain liquid at this point
  • Add in the cooked veggies/meat mixture and stir everything together, adding the rest of the nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, and if desired, a bit more basil
  • When well mixed, transfer everything back into the skin of the squash** and serve!

*If using cheese, add the cheese into the mixture at the end rather than into the mixture on the stovetop. Once you transfer the squash back into the shell, sprinkle more cheese on top and return to the oven for 5-6 minutes or until the top layer of cheese is melted

**If storing portions for later, can skip transferring back into the shell and divvy up into containers! If you freeze, less liquid forms from the squash, otherwise just be prepared to have a well-sealed container to prevent leaks!