Posted by on Wednesday, September 19, 2012 in One Dish Two Ways

It took me a long, long time to “get” spaghetti squash. It was a case of misguided expectations. I wanted spaghetti squash to have the taste and texture of spaghetti noodles – the perfect low-calorie pasta substitute! – and when it didn’t? Ewww.

When I started thinking of spaghetti squash as, well, squash, my relationship with the vegetable took a turn for the better. In fact, now I love the stuff. My favorite way to enjoy spaghetti squash is cooked up simply (either roasted with a little olive oil and kosher salt or via the microwave express), then scraped into a bowl and tossed with coarse salt, fresh-ground black pepper and a good amount of parmesan.

This, however – a version of baked spaghetti with half of the noodles replaced with spaghetti squash – is pretty darn delicious, too.

The interesting thing was, once I stopped thinking of spaghetti squash as a direct spaghetti noodle replacement, suddenly it did work a little better as a replacement for the pasta. Funny how the brain works.

This recipe brings together the best of both worlds. Half pasta and half squash layered with tangy marinara and cheese (and ground beef in half or all, as you wish), then baked to perfection.

It’s  a terrific meal-in-a-dish, and a great way to enjoy this wonderful squash. And my hunch is that most everyone will love this dish … regardless of their expectations.

 

This recipe calls for baking the spaghetti squash first, but if you’re in a bit more of a hurry, you can microwave it too. In fact, I talked about how to cook spaghetti squash either way just yesterday!

 

5.0 from 1 reviews

Baked Spaghetti & Spaghetti Squash with Optional Ground Beef
 
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Cook time
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50% spaghetti squash + 50% spaghetti noodles = 100% delicious. Spaghetti squash and spaghetti noodles layered with marinara, mozzarella, cheddar, and optional ground beef and then baked to perfection.
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Yield: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 medium spaghetti squash, about 2 pounds (resulting in about 3 cups prepared squash)
  • ½ pound spaghetti noodles, broken into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 3 cups marinara sauce or Italian tomato sauce
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Half vegetarian/half ground beef version add:
  • ½ pound lean ground beef
  • Salt and/or garlic salt and ground black pepper to taste
All ground beef version add:
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • Salt and/or garlic salt and ground black pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scrap out the seeds with a spoon; discard seeds. Brush the inside of each half with a little olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place cut side down on a baking sheet and bake for about 40 minutes until fork-tender. Let cool for about 15 minutes, or until squash is cool enough to handle. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook pasta. Break the spaghetti noodles into two-inch pieces and add to boiling water. Cook until al dente (follow package directions; boiling time can vary). Turn off heat, drain pasta, and return it to the pot.
  3. Using a fork, scrape the spaghetti squash strands into the drained pot of spaghetti. Gently toss spaghetti noodles and spaghetti squash with 2 teaspoons olive oil along with good pinch kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper, until noodles and squash are well-incorporated.
Vegetarian version
  1. Have a 13″ by 9″ baking pan ready.
  2. Spread half the sauce in the baking pan. Add half the pasta/spaghetti squash noodles. Top with half the mozzarella and cheddar cheeses. Add remaining sauce, remaining pasta/squash, and the rest of the mozzarella and cheddar cheeses. Sprinkle with parmesan. Proceed to BAKE step below.
Half vegetarian/half ground beef version
  1. Have two 8″ x 8″ baking dishes ready.
  2. In a medium saute pan over medium heat, brown ground beef along with seasonings (salt, pepper, and/or garlic salt) if desired. Drain. Mix in 1¼ cups of the marinara/Italian tomato sauce.
  3. Spread half the plain (non-meat) marinara sauce into one 8″ x 8″ baking dish and half the meaty marinara sauce into the other. Spread ¼ of the spaghetti squash/pasta mixture in each pan. Sprinkle each with ¼ of the mozzarella and ¼ cheddar. Spread the remaining sauces onto each, then divide the remaining spaghetti squash/pasta mixture, between the two, and divide the remaining cheddar and mozzarella between the two. Sprinkle each with the Parmesan. Proceed to BAKE step below.
All ground beef version
  1. Have a 13″ by 9″ baking pan ready.
  2. Spread half the meat sauce in the baking pan. Add half the pasta/spaghetti squash noodles. Top with half the mozzarella and cheddar cheeses. Add remaining meat sauce, remaining pasta/squash, and the rest of the mozzarella and cheddar cheeses. Sprinkle with parmesan. Proceed to BAKE step below.
BAKE
  1. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, until cheese is bubbly. Serve.