You know when people say that a spaghetti squash dish tastes “just like real pasta?” I hate to be the one to break the news, but usually, they’re kidding themselves. (It doesn’t help that, by the time you read this, I’ll be in Sicily eating all the pasta in sight… So I’m a little biased towards the real thing right now.) Don’t get me wrong, I totally love spaghetti squash and think it’s one of the most delicious fall ingredients that also happens to be low-carb and gluten-free, but I’ve never really thought it resembled pasta aside from the fact that they’re both strand-like. But I’ve been hooked on making this spaghetti squash dish the last few weeks, and I have to admit that it’s changed my mind! Keep scrolling for all the yumminess and a few quick tricks on making spaghetti squash taste as “spaghetti-like” as possible. I’d love to hear if you give it a try — and let me know if I make a believer out of you, too.
Let’s be honest: spaghetti squash can be pretty bland. It has a really high water-content — which is also one of the things that makes it healthy and low-calorie — but that requires adding layers of flavor through the other ingredients. Enter bacon: even just a little bit adds a level of richness that completely transforms light dishes. Sautéing the vegetables in just the tiniest bit of the bacon fat infuses the entire dish with so much flavor and makes it taste way more indulgent than it actually is.
Okay, I’m gonna give you my best new spaghetti squash tip, so listen up! Most people (including me) usually cut their spaghetti squash in half vertically before roasting, but I’ve started cutting mine in half CROSSWISE so that each half is like a cup (not a boat.) The result (after cooking) yields longer strands that you can twirl up with your fork just like spaghetti. See, told you I had become one of those annoying people who says it’s just like real pasta!
Sprinkling goat cheese over the warm pasta, er I mean, squash results in a creamy sauce that virtually makes itself when it melds with the bacon and light drizzle of olive oil that’s soaked up all that garlicky goodness.
Don’t you just want to dive in? I’d love to hear if you guys have any favorite spaghetti squash recipes. Since we’re trying to eat less refined carbs around here, it really is nice to have a one-dish meal like this that (almost) satisfies those pasta cravings and also showcases fall’s delicious produce in a way that’s easy enough for a weeknight but pretty enough for a dinner party.
*photos: kate lesueur
- 1 medium-sized spaghetti squash
- 6 slices of bacon, cut into 1" pieces
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 3 cups arugula
- 1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
- extra-virgin olive oil
- kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup basil leaves, julienned
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
- grated parmesan to top
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Microwave spaghetti squash for 3 minutes to soften (this just makes it so much easier to cut.) Slice spaghetti squash in half vertically through the root end, then place both halves face down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes until flesh is soft. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, arrange bacon pieces in the bottom of a deep sauté pan or dutch oven, and place on a burner turned up to medium-high. Cook until browned, then drain off all but 2 tablespoons bacon fat.
- Place pot back on burner, turn burner off, then add minced garlic and cherry tomatoes. Cover and keep warm until spaghetti squash is ready, which will slightly cook the tomatoes without getting mushy.
- When the squash is cool to the touch, use a fork to shred it into long spaghetti-like strands, then add the warm squash "noodles" to the tomato mixture.
- Turn burner back on low, then add arugula, goat cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, and a liberal pinch of salt and pepper. Toss to combine and slightly melt the goat cheese, then remove from heat. Add the basil and pine nuts, lightly toss, then divide among bowls and top with grated parmesan. Eat!