If you’re trying to lighten up your meals without going hungry, look no further than spaghetti squash. This veggie is lower in carbs and calories than traditional pasta and it’s surprisingly delicious. Once you bake a spaghetti squash, you can treat the inside just as you would any other noodle by topping with your favorite sauce. Need some inspiration? Check out one of these six healthy pasta recipes enlisting spaghetti squash for a new twist on a pasta supper.
6 Healthy Pasta Recipes That Use Spaghetti Squash Instead of Noodles
1. Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs
This recipe for spaghetti squash and meatballs from Food Network tastes just like the kind you enjoyed at Sunday dinner, but without the guilt. You can make regular beef meatballs or opt for turkey or chicken. To make your spaghetti, simply roast the squash for a little under an hour, then scrape it into strands. Add the sauce and meatballs, and this healthy meal is ready to eat.
1 medium spaghetti squash
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
6 cloves garlic
1 cup fresh parsley leaves
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
2 large eggs
1 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 (28 -ounce) cans tomato purée
2 large sprigs basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Directions: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Halve the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Sprinkle the cut sides with ½ teaspoon salt, then brush both sides with olive oil. Put the squash, cut-side up, in a baking dish and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Roast 20 minutes, then uncover and continue roasting until the squash is tender, about 35 more minutes.
Brush a baking sheet with olive oil. Pulse the celery, carrot, onion, garlic and parsley in a food processor until you have a past. Transfer half of the vegetable paste to a bowl; add the ground beef, ground pork, eggs, breadcrumbs, 1 cup Parmesan and 1 teaspoon salt and mix with your hands until just combined. Form into about 24 (2-inch) meatballs. Place meatballs on prepared baking sheet. Bake until firm but not cooked through, about 10 minutes.
Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the remaining vegetable paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until it looks dry, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato purée; rinse each can with 1 cup water and add to the pot. Stir in the basil, oregano and 1½ teaspoons salt. Bring to a simmer, then add the meatballs and simmer until the sauce thickens and the meatballs are cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the basil.
Use a fork to scrape the spaghetti squash flesh into strands; transfer to a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan. Season with salt. Divide the squash among bowls and top each with some meatballs, sauce and the remaining 1 tablespoon Parmesan.
2. Spaghetti Squash Carbonara
This recipe for spaghetti squash carbonara comes from Simple Healthy Kitchen and the recipe developer says enlisting spaghetti squash will save you 190 calories per serving. You still get your bacon, garlic, and cheese, but in a healthier package. The other upside is that you don’t have to nurse a boiling pot of noodles. This is definitely a win-win dish.
1 (2-pound) spaghetti squash
6 slices bacon or an equivalent amount of pancetta, cut into small pieces
2 large eggs
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more
4 cloves garlic, minced, optional
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
Directions: Halve squash lengthwise and remove seeds and stringy flesh. Place in a microwave-safe dish, flesh-side down. Cook on high for 10 to 12 minutes, or until tender. Let sit until cool enough to handle, then use a fork to create noodles.
In a large skillet set over medium heat, cook bacon or pancetta until crispy, then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, reserving fat in the pan. In a small bowl, mix eggs, Parmesan, salt, and pepper to combine. Set aside.
When squash is ready, cook garlic in reserved bacon or pancetta drippings until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the spaghetti squash and bacon. Cook until heated through, turn off heat, then add egg and cheese mixture. Toss until squash strands are fully coated. Serve garnished with parsley and additional cheese.
3. Baked Spaghetti Squash and Cheese
Mac and cheese is a dinner favorite, but it’s not the healthiest meal to put on the table. Luckily, this baked spaghetti squash and cheese from Skinny Taste lets you have the best of both worlds. You’ll even cook some spinach into the mac and cheese for an extra dose of veggies. The recipe feeds 7.
5½ cups cooked spaghetti squash
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup minced onion
¼ cup flour
2 cups skim milk
1 cup fat free chicken broth
8 ounces 2% reduced-fat mild cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper
4 cups baby spinach
⅛ cup grated Parmesan
Directions: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, then scoop out the stringy portion and the seeds. Place squash on a baking sheet and bake until tender, about 1 hour. When cool enough to handle, separate into strands using a fork. Transfer squash strands to a medium bowl and keep warm.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter with olive oil. Add onions and cook until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Stir in flour and cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low and, stirring constantly, add milk and broth. Increase heat to medium high and continue to cook, stirring, until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Remove sauce from heat, add cheddar, and stir until melted. Add squash and spinach, then season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking dish and top with Parmesan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Serve.
4. Spaghetti Squash Lasagna
Spaghetti squash lasagna proves, once again, there is nothing this veggie can’t do. This Cooking Light Diet recipe yields a healthy alternative to lasagna that is not only delicious, but also fun to eat. One serving clocks in at 375 calories. Best of all, the individual portions mean everyone will get the perfect ratio of veggies to sauce to cheese.
2 (1½-pound) small spaghetti squash
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 (8-ounce) package fresh baby spinach
½ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
2 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
8 ounces 93% lean ground turkey
1½ cups low-sodium marinara sauce
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about ¼ cup)
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut each squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds; discard. Place squash halves, cut sides up, on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes. Scrape inside of squash with a fork to remove spaghetti-like strands. Place strands on a clean dish towel; squeeze until barely moist.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds. Add spinach; cook 1 minute or until spinach wilts. Remove from heat. Combine spinach mixture, squash strands, ricotta cheese, salt, and half of mozzarella cheese in a medium bowl.
Return skillet to medium-high heat. Add turkey to pan; cook 4 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Add marinara sauce; cover, reduce heat to medium, and simmer 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees. Spoon sauce evenly into the bottom of each squash half. Top evenly with squash mixture. Sprinkle evenly with remaining mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.
Preheat broiler to high, keeping lasagnas in the oven. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes, or until cheese is golden brown and bubbly. Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes.
5. Spaghetti Squash Chicken Parmesan
Spaghetti squash chicken Parmesan, anyone? The dish from Emily Kyle Nutrition is sure to become a fast favorite. After you roast your squash for 40 minutes, you’ll top it with crispy chicken, sauce, and cheese before it goes back into the oven for an hour. After one last trip to the oven, dinner will be served.
1 small spaghetti squash
2 chicken breasts
1 egg, beaten
1 cup whole-wheat bread crumbs
1 cup of low-sodium or homemade sauce
¼ cup mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Directions: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Halve spaghetti squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, the add squash, flesh-side up. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, coat each chicken breast in egg, letting excess fall back into bowl. Transfer to breadcrumbs, and coat evenly. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
When the chicken is fully cooked, remove the spaghetti squash and fill each half with some sauce. Top each half with a chicken breast, more sauce, then the mozzarella. Return to the oven for about 5 more minutes, just until the cheese melts. Serve.
6. Lemon Pesto Spaghetti Squash
This light meal from Love and Lemons is perfect for pesto lovers. You can make your pesto at home or buy a prepared version at the store, then you’ll add it to your baked spaghetti squash along with lemon juice, spinach and some roasted cauliflower. That’s right, this dish is a veggie triple-threat that actually tastes great.
1 medium spaghetti squash
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
2 cups cauliflower florets
2 cups baby spinach, coarsely chopped
Juice of ½ small lemon, plus wedges for serving
2 tablespoon pine nuts
¼ cup chopped fresh herbs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese, for serving
Directions: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
Halve squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Drizzle squash with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and place on a baking sheet so cut sides face up. Roast until tender, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, toss cauliflower florets with oil, salt, and pepper on second baking sheet. Roast until golden around the edges, about 25 minutes.
Scrape the spaghetti squash into the strands using a fork and add to a large bowl along with spinach and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, then toss. Add roasted cauliflower, pine nuts, herbs, and pesto. Toss to combine, then serve garnished with lemon wedges, additional pesto, and Parmesan cheese.