It is that time of year when avid gardeners gaze onto their gardens with pride, and realize that the growing season is over and it is time to reap the remaining fruits (and veggies) of their labors. Those with green thumbs are tiring of salads with X, Y, and Z, and pasta salad with chopped or grilled vegetable of the week grows tiresome after a while. You start to yearn for the comfort food of fall, but the bounty of your garden demands to be used while it is fresh.
About that Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti squash is relatively easy to grow. It likes sunshine and water, but otherwise you can leave it to grow with abandon. One memorable summer a few years ago, I watched a single plant grow, and grow, and grow, strangling a zucchini, climbing a tree, and finally wrapping itself around the drainpipe. I was afraid I had an Audrey Two situation on my hands! Once I tamed that spaghetti beast, however, she proved to be delicious.
For those not inclined to garden, this is also the time of year when you will see squashes start to sprout up in your local grocery store. Bountiful displays overflow with all varieties of squashes, many of which we will be incorporating into dishes here. So, whether you are taking advantage of the bounty in your backyard, or oh your local sales, get ready to enjoy spaghetti squash in this inventive way.
It’s healthy too!
In addition to being easy to grow, another advantage of spaghetti squash is its nutritional value: coming in at almost ¼ the carbs of regular spaghetti, with vitamins A and C, potassium, fiber, and at less than 50 calories per cup! You can use whatever tomatoes you have on hand. I like Roma plum, San Marzano, or red cherry tomatoes for this recipe. The yellow of the squash, red tomatoes, and green basil are appealing to both eye and palate, but yellow pear tomatoes will work if that is what you grew this summer. I prefer these over the traditional or heirloom round tomatoes because they produce less juice, which can leave a puddle at the bottom of your dish. However, if that is what you have to work with, they would be just as tasty in this recipe.
Lastly, some hints on prep. If you only need half a squash, the uncooked remainder can be stored in the refrigerator for several days. I have also found that it stores cooked as well, but you may need to drain some liquid from the leftover before using. I would suggest scooping out the flesh and storing it that way to make things easier.
Upon removing from the oven I have you immediately take the squash out and serve it, so it stays piping hot. Use two forks to rip that squash apart. It easily shreds into nice thin spaghetti without ever having to touch it. From there you can place it into individual servings or a large bowl to toss together. Photographed here I made an individual serving and spooned the tomatoes on top. Of course that was for your benefit. To eat it, I tossed it all together and it looked divine and was tasty. An easy spaghetti squash recipe if ever there was one.
Finally, the cheese. You can certainly use that pre-grated stuff that comes in a green can–what a child I babysat for years ago referred to as “sprinkles” as I struggled to figure out why his mom would let him put jimmies on his pasta–but I prefer a block of Romano. I shred it in bulk, using the small shredding disc of my trusty food processor. It stores quite well in the freezer with no caking, stickiness, or unwanted added ingredients.
You’ll notice this is a vegan or vegetarian recipe, and it truly works as both. If you wanted to make it a vegan recipe but still add something “cheesy,” top it with some nutritional yeast or other Parmesan substitute. Otherwise, it’s a delicious dish that is perfectly vegetarian and it will keep you and your guests coming back for more.
While whole spaghetti squash can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to two months, the accompanying fresh tomatoes and basil cannot be, so here in southern New England September is just the right time for this recipe. Save this recipe for a time when your garden is just ripe for the picking. And if you are not an avid gardener, you can find these supplies at your local grocery store in the fall through winter when spaghetti squash is in season. They should be readily available and just as delicious!
As always, let us know what how you enjoyed this recipe in the comments, we look forward to hearing about your experience!
Tomato-Basil Spaghetti Squash
- 2 2 1/2 to 3 pound spaghetti squash cut lengthwise, seeds removed
- 2 pint cherry tomatoes sliced in half
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil optional
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Fresh pepper several grinds
- 1 handful Basil leaves sliced (more for garnish, optional)
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Season squash with salt and pepper. Place face down on a greased baking pan. Bake for 35 minutes.
- In a separate oven safe dish, toss the tomatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper. Set aside.
- When the timer goes off check the squash to make sure it is nearly done (should be able to get a fork through it). Increase the temperature to 400F and add the tomatoes to the oven. Cook for 10-15 minutes until the squash is fork tender.
- Remove both dishes from the oven. Stir the basil into the tomatoes.
- Shred the squash, using two forks, into a large bowl, or into individual serving bowls/plates.
- Top with tomato-basil sauce.
- Top with extra basil and cheese if desired, salt and pepper to taste.
- If you want to let the squash cool for a moment before shredding it, feel free to turn the oven off and leave the tomatoes in for a few minutes to keep them warm.
- This dish is delicious the next day cold or rewarmed, you just might need to drain some off excess liquid off, especially if you experiment with different types of tomatoes.