This is a vegetarian spaghetti squash recipe with bold Mexican flavors. Simply top the ‘spaghetti’ with a rich sauce of beans, onions, tomatoes, peppers, corn, salsa, spices and cheese for a great weeknight meal.
No pasta needed – just healthy low calorie veggies in this tasty spaghetti squash recipe where we’re mimicking spaghetti with sauce. In this case, a Mexican-style sauce. The Mexican topping of course can be made as spicy and cheesy as you like. My friends Judi and Fran (my taste testers) gave the dish two thumbs up and offered a couple of good tweaks. Of course one wanted it spicier and the other didn’t so extra chili flakes served on the side might be a good idea.
Spaghetti squash has a unique way of turning into fine spaghetti-like strands when cooked. Its slightly sweet mild nutty taste is a perfect vehicle for bold sauces and toppings. I prefer my squash quite soft, but you can cook it less if your prefer to maintain some bite – sort of ‘al dente’.
As far as nutrition goes, 1 cup of spaghetti squash only has 42 calories. It also packs in Vitamin A, C and B12. And don’t forget the high fiber black beans and nutritious tomatoes, corn and peppers in the sauce. Once again, this recipe is really a guide as it’s easy to vary the veggies and spices to your taste or to what you have on hand.
- There are two ways to cook spaghetti squash – baking and microwaving. I recommend a combination of the two. The initial 6 minute microwaving makes it much easier to cut the squash in half and also reduces baking time by 10- 20 minutes.
- Replace the seasonings in the recipe (chili powder, garlic, oregano, cumin) with 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons taco seasoning.
Tailor To Your Taste
- Vary the heat to your liking by adding a jalapeno pepper, more chili powder or chili flakes. The spiciness will also depend on the salsa you are using – mild, medium or hot.
- Good cheeses to use are Mozzarella, a Mexican cheese blend, Fontina or Montery Jack. You can also sprinkle on Parmesan at the end if you like.
- Add other vegetables like spinach, mushrooms and zucchini while making the sauce.
- Substitute canned tomatoes (drained) for the fresh tomatoes.
- Try other types of cooked beans such as navy, pinto, kidney, etc.
- Add sausage for a non meat version. Cook it with the onions and peppers.
Make Ahead Mexican Spaghetti Squash
- Cooked spaghetti squash can be stored in an airtight container for 4-5 days in the fridge. Same with the ‘sauce’. I suggest storing the sauce separately.
- To reheat, warm the cooked squash in the microwave, covered for 1-2 minutes. Heat the sauce on the stove or microwave, then ladle over the warmed squash.
- For left overs when the squash and sauce are already combined, just refrigerate and reheat in the microwave. The squash may get a bit softer and more watery, but it will still taste good. Hey, left overs for lunch, no complaining.
Mexican Spaghetti Squash
- 1 spaghetti squash. medium-large 3-5 lbs
- 1 tsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
Mexican Topping/Sauce (Note 1)
- 1 1/2 tbsp oil
- 1 cup chopped onions (1 medium onion)
- 1 cup chopped peppers (1 pepper)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced (2-3 tsp)
- 1 1/2 cups diced fresh tomatoes
- 2 tsp chili powder (or more if salsa is less spicy)
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 cup salsa from jar - mild, medium or hot (or homemade)
- 1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained (about 1/2 can)
- 1 cup frozen corn niblets
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup grated cheese like Mozzarella, Monterey Jack, Cheddar
- Garnish: chopped cilantro (optional)
- Heat oven to 425F. Line pan with foil or parchment for easy clean up.
- COOK SPAGHETTI SQUASH and MAKE 'SPAGHETTI': Pierce squash a few times with a knife. Microwave on high from 5-7 minutes depending on size of squash. Remove from microwave to cutting board. Let cool a bit or use towel to protect fingers (it's hot!). Cut squash lengthwise. Brush with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place both halves, cut side down, on pan. Roast for 25-40 minutes or until squash is easily pierced with knife. Turn over squash, cut side up. Using a fork, rake squash to create spaghetti-like strands. Note 2.
- MAKE MEXICAN SAUCE: While squash is roasting, heat oil in medium-large skillet or saucepan to medium high. Add onions and peppers and cook for a 5 minutes until tender. Stir in garlic for 30 seconds. Reduce heat to medium. Add chopped tomatoes, beans, corn, cumin, oregano and chili powder. Stir and cook for 5-6 minutes until tomatoes break down. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle on cheese, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 3 minutes to allow cheese to melt. If you don't have a cover, use tinfoil as a cover or just stir the cheese directly into the mixture.
- ASSEMBLE: Place cooked spaghetti squash strands on a serving plate. Scoop out sauce with cheese from skillet and place on top (I use a spatula). Sprinkle with cilantro or chopped green onions if desired and serve. Alternatively, make individual servings with squash and a scoop of sauce on top.
- Shortcut for seasonings: You can replace the seasonings in the recipe (chili powder, garlic, oregano, cumin) with 1 - 1 1/2 tablespoons taco seasoning.
- Serving options for spaghetti squash:
- Family style: Remove squash strands - scraping right to the skin of the squash - to a serving platter or individual plates, then cover with sauce.
- In squash bowls: Alternatively, scrape strands, leaving 1/2 inch of squash in the shell, and serve the squash and sauce directly in the squash 'boats"/shell.
- Make Ahead:
- Cooked spaghetti squash can be stored in airtight container for 4-5 days in the fridge. Same with 'sauce'. I suggest storing sauce separately.
- To reheat, warm cooked squash in microwave, covered for 1-2 minutes. Heat sauce on the stove or microwave, then ladle over warmed squash.
- For left overs where the squash and sauce are already combined, just refrigerate and reheat in microwave.
Here’s a couple of other vegetarian main dishes you might like: