This is fall comfort food at its finest. A hearty meat sauce and layers of melty, creamy cheese are stuffed into one of my favorite fall vegetables. Spaghetti squash can be a little intimidating to prep if you have never done it before so I outlined my steps for prepping the squash to roast.
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 to steady it. Next you want to take a small 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.
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.
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. Don’t scrape so hard that you start to remove the squash strands.
4) Season the inside with olive oil, salt and pepper.
I like to line a cookie sheet with foil to roast the squash… nothing to wash when you are done!
Roast in the oven for about 35 – 45 minutes at 400. It is done when you can easily pierce through the skin with a knife. 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.
Using a fork, loosen all of the little “spaghetti” strands from the skin and fluff them up a bit.
Next spoon a few dollops of ricotta cheese on top of the squash.
For cheesier bites throughout, nestle some of the ricotta further down underneath the squash strands. Add some of the mozzarella and parmesan on top of the ricotta.
Top with the meat sauce and add the remaining shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheese, then bake. You can go as heavy or light on the cheese in this recipe based on your taste!
Cheesey, zesty, saucy, spaghetti squash goodness! And no pasta gut bomb when you’re done! I serve these right in the squash – 1/2 of a squash per person, so look for a small to medium sized spaghetti squash for this recipe.
Italian Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
- 2 small to medium spaghetti squash- halved and seeds removed
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (to taste)
- 1 lb ground beef (or turkey)
- 1 32 ounce jar of marinara sauce (I like Rao's)
- splash of red wine if you have some open (this adds great flavor but you can skip and it will still be delicious!)
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
- 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Preheat your oven to 400 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 35-45 minutes. They are done when the skin starts to brown and soften and you can pierce the skin easily with the tip of a knife.
- 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. Nestle some of the ricotta cheese into the squash strands. Add a little of the mozzerella and parmesan cheese on top of the ricotta. Spoon about a cup of sauce (or more if it fits) into each half of squash. Reserve any left over sauce for serving or store in the refrigerator for another use. Top with with the remaining 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!