But I’m not about to let food go to waste, particularly fresh produce, so when our neighbor gave us two large ones from his garden , I knew I had to figure out a way to cook with them that my family and I would like.
A quick search of the internet revealed that I’d been doing it all wrong in the past by attempting to cook it as a side dish the same way I would other squash types. Everyone else, it seems, combines it with other ingredients to create a main dish.
Who knew? Chalk it up to one more of those moments that proves you can learn something new every day. Even at my age.
There were many recipes online, but I happened to have most of the ingredients on hand for this particular one, so I decided to give it a whirl. It turned out to be very easy and quite delicious. Thus, a new meal entered my recipe lexicon.
I love pasta, rice, and bread, and they are all mainstays of our diet – usually in their whole grain form, and I have zero desire to eliminate them from our meals.
And since we maintain healthy weights and excellent health with our balanced and moderate approach to meals, there’s absolutely no reason for us to do so.
So while most spaghetti squash recipes use the squash itself as a stand-in for pasta and the grain food group, I added buttered breadcrumbs to the recipe to include some filling carbs in the meal.
I also wanted more color, so I included a couple of cups of fresh broccoli, cut up small.
And I substituted regular whole milk for the cream called for in the recipe. It’s a cheaper alternative, and also somewhat healthier.
While this is a very simple recipe, it’s not a quick one. The prep time is only about 10-15 minutes, but the start-to-finish time is a good hour. Most of that time is oven time, though, so you can make a salad and otherwise go about your business while it’s cooking.
One thing I’d like to mention about serving this meal: The squash and its ingredients all need to be stirred and mixed together after they're all cooked and before serving. The cook can do this, or the diners themselves. But it's an important step that blends everything beautifully and lends it a lovely, creamy texture. If you don’t do that, then it tends to be a bit runny and far less appealing.
Oh, and one final note. This is one of the very few recipes in my repertoire that is geared to smaller households. Since it’s just my husband and me at home these days, I no longer need to cook for large groups or appetites, so I’m trying to find more recipes like that. This meal provides 4 hearty, satisfying servings, using a spaghetti squash that’s about 2-3 pounds.
Now, spaghetti squash can be pricey, as I was surprised to discover. So I’d save this recipe for when it’s in season, or you can get it on sale for about 69¢-99¢ per pound, or if you grow your own.
Here’s the recipe:
Makes 4-6 servings (depending on size of squash)
Prep Time – Approximately 10 minutes
Total Start-to-Finish Time – approximately 1 hour
Total Recipe Cost – approximately $3.00
Total per Person Meal Cost, with tossed salad – approximately $2
1 spaghetti squash (2½-3½ pounds)
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup whole milk (or cream, or 2%)
½ cup water
¼ pound brick cheese of your choice (mozzarella, cheddar, etc.)
1 cup grated cheese or cheese blend of your choice (cheddar, mozzarella, Parmesan, etc.)
¼ pound broccoli (approximately), enough to make about 2 cups when cut up small.
3/4 cup bread crumbs, plain or seasoned
2-3 tablespoons margarine, oil or butter
2-3 green onions or scallions (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Recipe continues after photos
- Pre-heat the oven to 400° F. (you will first microwave the squash to pre-cook it, but you will need the oven to cook the stuffed squash)
- Wash the squash and cut it in half lengthwise with a large knife.
- Scoop out the seeds.
- Sprinkle the halves with pepper and place them upside down in a microwavable dish. Add about ½ cup of water to the bottom of the pan or casserole and cover it. Microwave the squash on high for about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, if you are using brick cheese, then grate it to make about 1 cup. Otherwise, just measure it out.
- Wash the broccoli and cut it into small pieces, taking particular care to make sure the stems are small.
- If you’re using scallions, peel off the outermost layer, wash them, and cut off the ends. Then slice across them to create small disks, all the way up the green stem.
- Combine the 1 cup of milk, the ½ cup of water, the cheese, the broccoli, and the optional scallions in a bowl.
- Melt the 2-3 tablespoons of margarine or butter in a small frying pan, or add the oil and heat it up. Pour the 3/4 cup of bread crumbs into the pan and stir them to blend everything well.
- Remove the squash from the microwave and drain the water.
- Place the squash side by side face up in an oven-proof casserole. Fill the seed cavity with the broccoli, milk, and cheese mixture.
- Top the squash with the buttered bread crumbs.
- Cover the pan with tin foil and place it in the pre-heated oven. Set the timer for 45 minutes.
- When the timer goes off, check the squash for doneness by poking it with a knife or fork. It should pierce easily all the way through. Add cooking time in 10 minute increments, if needed.
- If desired, remove the foil and return the squash to the oven for an additional 10 minutes to crisp up the top a bit.
- Cut the squash into portions and serve it with a tossed green salad. (To ensure the correct consistency, thoroughly mix the cooked squash with the broccoli and cheese mixture before serving it, or have each diner do their own.)