Want to love spaghetti squash but not sure you’re head over heels? Simple One-Pot Italian Spaghetti Squash is a home-style Italian feast with so much flavor you’ll be trading pasta for squash without even knowing it!
Skill level: easy
Simple One-Pot Italian Spaghetti Squash uses minimal ingredients and steps to deliver full-on flavor. Basic kitchen skills like using the stove-top, microwave or oven are all you need for this recipe. New to squash? It’s SO easy to cook!
Life Begins at Squash
Full disclosure: squash, especially spaghetti squash, is one of those foods I want to love but have a grudge against. You might have some of those, too. Some poor food who did you wrong somewhere along the line, probably childhood, and you still have trust issues.
My first attempt was spaghetti squash, and we got off on bad terms when I was about 5. Neither of us were at our best. The squash was letting it all hang out, getting cold way too fast with barely a thin coat of 80’s low calorie margarine standing between it and the world. Meanwhile, I was ranking everything that wasn’t dessert on a sliding scale of how closely it resembled corn dogs. Under these conditions, spaghetti squash and I never stood a chance.
Now I’m so grown up it’s grossing me out. I’ll be 42 next week. Will I be instantly sucked back into the 80’s and morph into Dorothy from the Golden Girls, or even worse, Blanche, who had to kick her way through mobs of boring old men in slacks to get to the kitchen table? Unlikely, but some part of me is really afraid.
Anyway, it’s time to let bygones be bygones and give spaghetti squash another chance. After all, it’s healthy, cheap, and showing up in all kinds of recipes. Other food bloggers are showing me it’s more versatile than I ever imagined it could be. Spaghetti squash is actually starting to look good!
This is the first recipe I’ve come up with for my new muse. I wanted to be sure we’d hit it off, so I pummeled it with simple Italian flavors I knew I’d love no matter what.
But spaghetti squash is doing an important job here. It’s being spaghetti in a dish that would otherwise need real pasta. How many calories and carbs is that saving me?? Probably a lot, and when I find out I’ll come back and tell you.
Spaghetti squash doesn’t taste just like spaghetti, but to my taste it’s an excellent stand-in. It’s actually better in some ways! I love how it twirls around a fork even better than pasta. Spaghetti squash clings to everything, so there’s spaghetti [squash] and sauce and onions and green peppers and some hearty meat substitute in every twirly bite.
Pasta’s good and all, but I’ve done that. I’m ready for some excitement.
Cooking Spaghetti Squash
Choices are always nice, and when it’s time to cook spaghetti squash we have a few. I’ve used the oven, microwave and stove-top methods with good results. I’ll only go into the stove-top method since it’s what makes this a truly one-pot recipe, but none of the methods are difficult or dirty a bunch of dishes.
Whichever method you end up using, I’d say slice the squash into rings instead of lengthwise. Turns out the “noodles” inside wrap around and around, and cutting the squash into rings preserves their length. I learned this after I’d taken pics of this recipe, which is why I’m sporting little short noodles (for the last time).
1. Put a large cooking pot in the sink and fill it about 2/3 full of water. Submerge your squash in the water as much as you can, and let any displaced water drain away. Take the squash out and set aside.
2. Move the pot of water to the stove-top and put the heat on hi. When the water starts to boil, turn the heat down to med and put the squash in. If it bobs around, hold it down with a pot lid or heat-proof plate.
3. Part of the squash will probably stick out of the pot. Just turn it every 10-15 minutes and it will cook evenly.
4. Cook the squash 30-40 minutes. It feels soft to the touch when it’s done.
5. Cut it in half horizontally and scoop out the seeds and pulp.
6. Pull the strands away from the skin and loose with a fork.
That’s it for the stove-top method! Pretty straightforward, no crazy kitchen skills needed. It takes a little time, but when it’s done you have a decent pasta replacement that’s actually a vegetable…worth it. I adapted my method from Craftsy (How to Cook Spaghetti Squash),
Clean Eating/Lower Sodium Spaghetti Sauce Options:
If you’re watching sodium or want to avoid jarred sauce, this homemade reduced sodium spaghetti sauce is a good, quick alternative. I almost always use this or a close variation wherever I need a 32 oz. jar of sauce.
2 14.5 oz. cans no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 6 oz. can no-salt-added tomato paste
1 tbsp of your favorite sweetener
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic powder (not salt)
1 tsp onion powder (not salt)
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste
Stir everything together in a saucepan and simmer 3-4 minutes before adding to a recipe.
If you’re not in a hurry, this Easy Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce is an awesome lower-sodium/clean eating choice. It takes a few more minutes, but that roasted garlic!
- a 4-6 pound spaghetti squash
- 2 bell peppers, any colors, chopped (equal to 2 cups)
- 1 onion, any variety, chopped (equal to 1/2 cup)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- a 10 - 14 oz. package frozen meatless crumbles (see recipe notes), or about 3 cups crushed walnuts
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- a 32 ounce jar spaghetti sauce, or homemade sauce equal to 4 cups
- salt and pepper to taste
- Toppings like Italian flat leaf parsley, vegan or regular Parmesan, crushed red pepper flakes, etc. (optional)
- Cook the squash using the stove-top method described, or any method. Set it aside.
- Add the pepper, onion and teaspoon of oil to a large cooking pot and saute over medium heat 2-3 minutes.
- Add the meatless crumbles or walnut pieces and Italian seasoning. Saute with the peppers and onion for about 8 minutes. If using walnut pieces, turn the heat down to medium-low.
- Stir in the pasta sauce and heat through, about 2 minutes.
- Turn the heat down to medium-low and stir in the spaghetti squash. Heat through, stirring frequently, 2-3 minutes.
- Serve hot, with your favorite Italian toppings.
Nutrition info is based on the recipe made with a 5 pound squash, the low sodium spaghetti sauce and a regular package of Gardein™ Beefless Ground.
The recipe’s yield will vary depending on the size of your squash.
Meatless ground beef alternatives – Frozen meat alternatives are an easy way to give the dish a hearty meat sauce vibe. Gardein™’s Beefless Ground and Beyond Meat™’s Beefy Crumbles are two brands I’ve been enjoying lately, but there are many more. Check the frozen section and occasionally the produce section for your store’s selection. Some brands like Morningstar Farms™ make products like this which aren’t always vegan or gluten free, so if you have dietary restrictions be sure to check the labels.
For a clean eating version, skip the crumbles and use about 3 cups of crushed walnuts instead.