Baked Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

If you read my last post on  juicy favorites, you already know that I LOVE spaghetti squash! I am so happy that it is in season and showing up in my local markets. I also love a “stuffed” vegetable. Peppers, zucchini, eggplant…there is something comforting about it.  For this dish I roasted the spaghetti squash and filled it with some ricotta cheese, a zesty meat sauce, and topped it with mozzarella and parmesan cheeses before popping it back in the oven to melt the cheeses. It was a huge hit with my family and surprisingly simple to make. Now if we could only get some fall weather to go with the fall produce, I would really be a happy girl! I made this last weekend on a baking hot day and it was all I could do to snap a few photos with my iPhone, so I apologize for the lack of photographic creativity. I did, however, have the forethought to take pictures of the spaghetti squash prep for those of you who are intimidated by this lovely fall squash. It is a bit of a pain to cut it open, but oh so worth it! Hopefully the tips below will help!

The first step in prepping your spaghetti squash is cutting in in half lengthwise. This is NOT easy since it is about as hard as a pumpkin and it wobbles around! Using a folded dish towel on top of your cutting board helps it to steady it. Next you want to take a smallish knife and score the squash all the way around. Just cut a little bit through the flesh so you have a guide line.

1) Score the squash with a small knife.

Spaghetti Squash scoring

Then you want to use a large knife to cut all the way through. Use one had to steady the squash on the stem side while you cut through using your scored line as guide. Once you work your knife all the way through, you can stand it up and sort of “pull” it apart. You won’t be able to cut through the stem, so when you pull it apart into  2 halves, it will break on either side of the stem.

2) Use a large knife to cut all the way through.

Spaghetti Squash cutting

3) Scoop out the seeds.

You want to remove all of the seeds and “slimy” strings…just like you would if you were carving a pumpkin.

Spaghetti Squash seed removal

4) Season the inside with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Spaghetti Squash seasoned

I like to line a cookie sheet with foil to roast the squash… nothing to wash when you are done!

5) Flip the halves over (flesh side down) for roastingSpaghetti Sqash ready to bake

Then all you have to do is wait! It takes about 45 minutes in 450 degree oven to get it all roasty and tender…yum!! Let your squash cool for a while so you can handle it without burning your fingers. All of the spaghetti squash prep/roasting can be done ahead of time and refrigerated until you are ready to use it.

Spaghetti Squash roasted

Using a fork, loosen all of the little “spaghetti” strands from the skin and fluff them up a bit.

Spaghetti Squash forked

Next spoon a few dollops of ricotta cheese on top of the squash.

Spaghetti Squash with ricotta

Then top with your meat sauce. I cheated on the meat sauce and used one of my Juicy Faves…Rao’s jarred marinara sauce. Hey – it was 90 degrees out, it was all could do to even turn on the oven. I just browned some good grass fed, organic ground beef with a little onion and red pepper flakes and added the jarred sauce to it. It was delish!

Spaghetti Squash with sauce

Top with the meat sauce, some shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheese, then bake.

spaghetti squash biteCheesey, zesty, saucy, spaghetti squash goodness! And no pasta gut bomb when your done…total bonus! I served these right in the squash – 1/2 of a squash per person. It looks like a lot of food but I gobbled it up no problem, and so did my 12 year old. I suppose if you don’t have quite the same gluttonous hearty appetite that I do, you could serve it in a bowl and make the portion smaller.

Baked Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 small to medium spaghetti squash- halved and seeds removed
  • olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound ground beef (or ground meat of choice)
  • 1-28 ounce jar of prepared marinara sauce (I use Rao’s)
  • splash of red wine if you have it (and you should, since it is only logical that you are drinking a glass of wine while you are cooking)
  • 1 cup of whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • fresh basil for garnishing

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Coat your prepared spaghetti squash halves with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Line a cookie sheet with foil and place the squash cut side down and roast for 45 minutes. While the squash is roasting, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium pot and saute the chopped onion until it is tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and ground beef. Cook the beef, breaking it up with your spoon, until it is cooked through. Add the marinara sauce and mix well. If you have some red wine open, add about a quarter cup. Simmer the sauce with a lid for about at least 20 minutes or up to an hour on very low heat.

Once your squash is done and cool enough to handle, fluff up the “spaghetti” strands with a fork. Top each half with small spoonfuls of the ricotta cheese. Spoon about a cup of sauce (or more if it fits) into each half of squash. Reserve any left over sauce for serving if you have it (or serve it with some pasta if you have a non squash lover in the family!). Top with with the mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Put the filled squash back in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Top with fresh basil and serve!

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