Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

Spaghetti squash tossed with fresh herbs, tomatoes, onions, garlic, Parmesan and other goodness – it’s like a pasta and a vegetable combined in one.


We’re CSA-less this summer. Ben and Patricia of In Good Heart Farm, our longtime CSA, had been leasing land for their farm only ten minutes away from our house. But, they recently bought a farm in Pittsboro, too far away for us to stay with their CSA.

Luckily for us, a new farm is taking over their old land—Chickadee Farms. Their CSA starts in August. Can’t wait! Until then, I’m going to the Clayton Farmers Market on Saturday mornings which is where I picked up a spaghetti squash last weekend.

I’ve been making this spaghetti squash recipe for a long time but never wrote it down until the other night. The exact ingredients usually depend on what’s in the refrigerator.

It’s an easy recipe except for one thing: cutting the squash.

Cutting spaghetti squash puts you at risk of losing a finger if you’re not careful. Make sure your knife is sharp so it doesn’t slip. I usually slice off the stem first—be careful even doing that. Then, I ease the knife through to cut it in half lengthwise.

I’ve seen recipes that tell you to stand the squash up on the cut end (where the stem was) and slice it lengthwise that way. Some people microwave the squash first for a few minutes to make it easier to slice. Whatever you do, watch your fingers!

Cooking time depends on the size of your squash. If you overcook the squash, the strands get mooshy. But if you don’t cook it enough, you’ll have a tough time getting the strands out. Test for doneness by poking a thin knife through the flesh all the way to the peel. The flesh will be tender and separate into spaghetti-like strands when it’s done.  

I forgot to reset the timer and overcooked the squash in the photo below. You can tell because the strands are short and not well defined. The texture was weird but it still tasted delicious.

If you don’t have fresh herbs on hand, try adding some basil pesto or one teaspoon each of dried herbs.

Italian-Style Spaghetti Squash

Italian-Style Spaghetti Squash

You’ll need a brush, baking sheet and large pan.

  • 1 spaghetti squash (about 3 pounds), stem removed, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1/2 (or more) red bell pepper, sliced into 2” thin strips
  • 1/3 cup chopped pancetta (or bacon)
  • Salt
  • Other options: sliced zucchini, chopped spinach
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup halved grape tomatoes (or equivalent chopped Roma or canned diced tomatoes)
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (basil, oregano, thyme and/or Italian flat-leaf parsley)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino-Romano cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400. Brush cut sides of squash with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place squash, cut sides down, on a baking sheet. Roast until tender, about 30-45 minutes. Let cool, about 10 minutes.

While the squash is cooking, heat oil in a large pan. Add onion, red bell pepper, pancetta and salt, and cook until the vegetables soften. If you’re including any other vegetables, add them with the onion mixture. Add garlic, cook about a minute, until it’s golden. Stir in tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and herbs. Cook until the tomatoes are slightly softened.

Once the squash has cooled down a bit, scrape the flesh with a fork to remove the spaghetti-like strands. Add the squash to the pan, combine thoroughly with vegetable mixture and heat through. Sprinkle with Parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste.


1 year ago on Gusto: Southwestern Slaw (no mayo!)

2 years ago: Zucchini Scallion Pancakes with Soy Dipping Sauce

4 years ago: Cherry Crumble

5 years ago: Eggplant Caponata

6 years ago: Hot and Smoky Baked Beans

3 thoughts on “Italian-Style Spaghetti Squash

  1. mylifeasishan says:

    Looks amazing

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