This recipe is the direct antithesis of “fancy” – which, other than the fact that it’s just plain delicious – is why it’s so awesome. It’s the perfect way to celebrate and enjoy seasonal produce without having to get all fussy and stuff. Chili! And cheese! Hellooo, my pretties.
Okay, so they are squash, so they’re actually not the prettiest things in the world. I mean, can anything called “squash” be pretty? But no matter! I promise you – you won’t care in the slightest.
I’m totally in love with this recipe. It might be the easiest way ever to convert professed squash haters. Spaghetti squash is already a great gateway squash. As long as you don’t go into things expecting an exact replica of pasta, you’re likely to be pleasantly surprised. Firm, almost crunchy strands without that “squashy” taste. It’s pretty great.
With Chili Cheese Stuffed Spaghetti Squash, the squash sort of stands in for a bread bowl. Except less carbs. You just roast spaghetti squash halves then fill with chili and cheese, then bake again until melty perfection. That’s pretty much the deal.
As you eat your cheesy chili, you scrape strands of the delicious squash into each forkful. It’s a good thing.
So here’s another cool thing about this dish. I provide a quick and easy chili recipe here, but really, you can use any chili you want. I’ve made it with this Black Bean Pumpkin Chili, for instance, and it was wonderful, though a little strange to eat squash within a squash. Dinner Inception, my guy called it.
So make your favorite chili to stuff in there. Or make use of chili leftovers. Or use canned chili! I won’t tell. Or. Or! Make up a meaty version and a non-meaty version. The individual serving component makes it perfect for doing the One Dish Two Ways thing.
Nope, fancy-pants it’s not. And that’s just the way we like it.
These can be assembled up to the point of baking, then refrigerated for up to 24 hours. Just remove from the fridge and bake! You just might need to cook them for a little longer to heat them all the way through. You can also make each component separately beforehand and then quickly assemble and bake for a faster weeknight dinner.
Chili Cheese Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
- 2 small to medium spaghetti squash (2-3 pounds each)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (divided + more to taste)
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper + more to taste
- 1 cup diced onion (about ½ medium onion)
- 1 cup diced green pepper (about 1 medium pepper)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 2 small cloves)
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes in tomato puree
- 1 14.5 ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (plain diced tomatoes work too)
- 1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed (or about 1 3/4 cups cooked beans)
- 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed (or about 1 3/4 cups cooked beans)
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (8 ounces)
- Optional toppings such as: sour cream (Greek yogurt, chopped avocado, cilantro leaves, fresh tomato, and/or chopped scallions)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line one large or two medium rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper or foil.
- Lop off the top of the spaghetti squash and cut it in half lengthwise. With a spoon, scrape out the seeds. Brush the cut side of each half with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Dust with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Place cut-side down on cookie sheet(s) and bake until tender and the squash can easily be pierced with a fork, about 40 minutes. You can also microwave the spaghetti squash if you need dinner on the table faster. Here's how to cook spaghetti squash in the microwave, along with full instructions on prepping and cooking it both ways.
- While the spaghetti squash cooks, make the chili. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil into a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, green peppers, and oregano and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne and cook, stirring constantly, for one minute. Add the tomatoes and beans and stir to combine. Cook until it starts to bubble (be careful, it may splatter because it's so thick) then reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, for another 10 minutes, until heated through. Set aside.
- When spaghetti squash are done cooking, flip them over. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cheese in the bottom of each half. Fill to the top with chili and top each with remaining cheese. Return to oven and bake until cheese is melted and bubbly, 20-25 minutes.
- Serve with assorted toppings.
Meat Option:Use a meaty chili (any chili will do!)
Vegan Option:Leave off the cheese and other dairy products (or sub vegan products).