Eat Well: Spaghetti Squash & Sauce

The following post was written by my mom, WWW. Thanks, mom!
Spaghetti squash was all the rage in the 70’s when Moosewood was published and the first big vegetarian movement took off. I tried cooking it once back then and never touched one again…until this week. Baby girl grandbabies have inspired me to try again. (They are the length of these squashes this week). And what I found out is that there are a few tricks to making spaghetti squash yummy. The first is you HAVE to pick out a yellow one, the yellower the better. If they are white or really pale, don’t bother with them…they will have no flavor whatsoever. The other trick is, bake them split in half with some olive oil on them to bring out their flavor (Cut side down is best). And…don’t over cook them…they will get mushy.

What's great about this squash is that when cooked, it looks like spaghetti, so you can use it instead of spaghetti or other pasta in any recipe. It's great for spaghetti & sauce lovers who are looking to cut down on carbs and increase their vegetable intake.

Larry’s favorite food is spaghetti and marinara sauce…it used to be spaghetti and meat sauce but since our veggie turn over, I have been making a meatless sauce that we actually like better. I was a little skeptical about serving him the same sauce on squash instead of pasta, but the word from Larry is: “I like this BETTER with the spaghetti squash!” If that isn’t a confirmation from a confirmed spaghetti-phile, I don’t know what is.

To save time, I use a good quality pasta sauce to start with and then add all of my goodies. This way, I don’t have to cook my sauce all afternoon and it turns out delicious! Years ago, we had a neighbor whose family was from Sicily. She taught me always to add a pinch of cinnamon to my marinara sauce. I know it sounds weird, but it does something really special to the sauce so I highly recommend adding it. I don’t like green peppers in my sauce, so I have left them out. Go ahead and add them if you want (sauté them first). Here is my very easy and delicious marinara sauce:

Marinara Sauce
2-3 jars good quality marinara sauce
12 oz sliced mushrooms
olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves smashed
½ cup fresh basil, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
1 pinch cinnamon
red pepper flakes (if you like it spicy)
red wine to taste
freshly ground pepper

Mince smashed garlic and add to 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy, non-reactive pot. Stir until aromatic but not brown. Add chopped onion and cook until onion is transparent. In a separate pan, cook mushrooms in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in batches until browned.
Add to onions as you cook them. Add fresh basil, oregano, marinara sauce, cinnamon, pepper, and a splash or two of red wine (and red pepper flakes if you want them).
Bring to a boil and turn down, simmering until flavorful, about ½ hour. Adjust seasonings to your taste. Sometimes I add more garlic and wine towards the end of the cooking time. Serve over pasta or spaghetti squash (see below).

How to cook Spaghetti squash:

1 ripe spaghetti squash
olive oil

Preheat oven to 375. Split squash lengthwise in half. Scrape out seeds (you can save them to bake if you want…they taste like pumpkin seeds). Line a baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Rub olive oil on both sides of the squash and lay cut side down on pan.
Cook for about 30 minutes until cooked but not mushy.
Cool a little and then take a fork and scrape out the strands of squash onto a plate.
Serve with your favorite sauce, or simply toss with olive oil, fresh herbs, fresh tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese.



Becka Robinson | 12:49 PM

Thank you! I've been wanting to try this but not sure how to do it for soooo long. :)

lepisosteidae | 1:04 PM

For anyone else looking to explore spaghetti squash - which everyone seems to hate, and I love! - this recipe from Shutterbean is amazing:

You can definitely make some substitutions to create a vegetarian (or probably even vegan!) dish, and it's delicious.

marnesandnoble | 1:24 PM

I am actually a huge fan of spaghetti squash but I think the trick is to not eat it with red sauce or view it as a pasta substitute. I like it with olive oil, avocado and parmesan (see here: or onions, white beans, spinach and feta (see here:

I haven't commented before but WWW I love your posts!

Cave Momma | 1:32 PM

That looks so yummy! My question is what is the texture of the squash? I'm a texture person so I'm always afraid to try things.

Erin | 1:43 PM

Thanks for figuring out what my family is having for dinner tomorrow - I was out of inspiration and considering toast.

L.L. | 1:48 PM

I will so be trying this! My husband asks for pasta like everynight but I am trying to be healthier (I know pasta dishes can be healthy but my husband always eats such a large portion, it negates that). I think this will be perfect - he can eat as much as he wants and still be healthy since its a vegetable!

Margie | 4:18 PM

Last time I tried spaghetti squash was with a fancy recipe a year or two ago. I love the idea of just using it as spaghetti with sauce! Simple, easy, delicious. Will try this one out on my family soon!

BonJoey | 11:20 PM

This looks awesome and delish! Can't wait to try it!! Your cooking posts are fantastic, WWW! :)

Anonymous | 1:18 AM

This looks delicious, WWW! Great post :)

Kerry | 6:24 AM

Wow, I've never heard of this before but I think I definitely need to give it a try. I need some more veggies in my lfe. Thanks!

Anonymous | 7:04 AM

my mom (also a veg) uses spaghetti squash as "pasta" sometimes...i can't get enough of it! she sometimes mixes in garbanzo beans, spinach, asiago cheese, and red pepper flakes. oh man, it's my favorite meal ever!!

Anonymous | 7:05 AM

Cavemama: the texture can be hard to's not mushy if cooked well, but also not "hard". it's delicious :)

nicole | 8:33 AM

I love this dish and make it every now and then. Thanks for your take on it.

@Marnesandnoble: Thanks for the other ideas for spaghetti squash. I have always gone the red sauce route; it's nice to see it used in other ways.

@Cave mama: The texture. The strands of squash are much softer than noodles; there is often a lot of moisture in the squash, so it tends to be mushy the next day (as leftovers), but it's still a tasty and healthy option. We like it at our house. Try it! See what you think.

chesapeake | 8:35 AM

I cannot possibly tell you how grateful I am for this series.

I've cooked from it before, but three days ago I found out neither I nor my husband can eat gluten, eggs, dairy, or soy.

And like 98% of these recipes cover working without those four seemingly impossible-to-avoid ingredients.

So THANK YOU! You are saving my family. :-D

Ray | 10:08 PM

I'm not a vegetarian, but this looks really good. I'll have to try it some day. ;o) Thanks for the recipe Wendy.

KateFitz | 4:12 PM

after going to 1 farmers market and 2 different grocery store I found some spaghetti the oven right now!

Rebecca | 4:37 PM

I'm a pasta lover too, but I gain weight easily when I eat carbs. Thanks for the tip! I am now a spaghetti squash convert. Having it for dinner tonight with some sundried-tomato pesto. =)