Spaghetti Squash Adventures

We love cooking with winter squash, but up until this year, we had never tried cooking with spaghetti squash.

Ever since Zavino‘s University City location opened, we have become enamored with their spaghetti squash appetizer, which is a simple blend of spaghetti squash with shredded carrots and zucchini, served over marinara sauce and topped with pine nuts and parmesan cheese.

Spaghetti squash at Zavino

We have attempted to recreate this at home several times, and it is delicious and simple. We cut the spaghetti squash in half length-wise, then roast on a baking sheet, face-down, at 400˚ F for about 30-45 minutes. In the meantime, we use a box-grater to shred about 1/2 of one carrot and about 1/2 of one zucchini. We mince a clove or two of garlic and just briefly sauté the garlic, carrots, and zucchini in a little bit of olive oil, just for a minute or so. When the spaghetti squash is done, we use a fork to break it apart and scoop all the insides into a bowl, then mix in the carrots and zucchini. Meanwhile, we heat some marinara sauce. To serve, we scoop out some marinara sauce, then top with the spaghetti squash mixture, parmesan cheese, and pine nuts. We made this as a side dish along with some lemon-roasted cod from Shore Catch, via the Rittenhouse Farmers’ Market.

Homemade Zavino-style spaghetti squash with lemon-roasted cod

Not wanting to just repeat ourselves, we started tracking down more spaghetti squash recipes on Pinterest. Several were variations on the Italian theme (such as lasagne style, using tomato sauce, mozzarella, ricotta, etc.). There were also several recipes that were variations on a Mexican theme, which we thought would be intriguing to try for something different.

I ended up doing a mashup of Sarah’s Spaghetti Squash Burrito Bowls via Making Thyme for Health and Kevin’s Chicken Enchilada Stuffed Spaghetti Squash via Closet Cooking. I cut the spaghetti squash in half length-wise and roasted it at 400˚ F for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, I prepared an enchilada sauce using Kevin’s recipe, which included one 28 oz can of diced tomatoes, 1/2 chopped onion, 3 garlic cloves, 2 chipotle peppers in adobo, 1 tsp cumin, and 1 tsp oregano. I used a stick immersion blender to smooth it out, then set the sauce aside. I heated a can of black beans and set that aside as well. I chopped some red bell pepper and green onions to use as garnish, and grated some cheddar cheese and jack cheese and set these aside. By now, the spaghetti squash was done. I flipped the spaghetti squash halves over and filled them with a mix of enchilada sauce, black beans, and red bell pepper, then topped each half with a handful of grated cheese. I put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes for the cheese to melt. We served each half on a plate, garnished with some green onions on top. It was up to each person to pull apart the spaghetti squash strands while eating rather than pulling them out first and putting them back in the shell. I was worried this might make the dining experience too complicated, but actually it turned out fine. There were plenty of leftover beans, enchilada sauce, and cheese, so we were able to refill our “bowls” part way through. We also served this with corn tortillas, so we could make tacos as we ate. I loved how afterwards we felt satisfied but not stuffed.

Spaghetti squash, enchilada-style

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