Spaghetti Squash Gratin
Spaghetti squash is a low-carb, low-cal alternative to pasta; when cooked, it miraculously transforms into golden, spaghetti-like strands. My favorite way to prepare it is to toss it with with marinara sauce, sprinkle it lightly with crispy breadcrumbs and cheese and bake it in the oven until golden brown. It’s like a gift from the diet gods.
If you’ve never spaghetti squash, it can be a little intimidating. It’s one of those vegetables you’re not quite sure how to go at. To cut it raw is suicidal, unless you have a giant cleaver or very big muscles. I think it’s easiest to boil it first, then cut it when it’s nice and soft. See my pics below for the step-by-step.
You can serve this as a vegetarian main course – trust me, you’ll feel virtuous eating it – or as a side dish to Italian sausage or meatballs.
How to Prepare Spaghetti Squash
Boil in a covered pot for about 30 minutes, or until tender and easily pierced with fork.
Slice off end.
Cut in half lengthwise.
Remove the seeds.
Finally, use a spoon to scoop out flesh (go from side to side to keeps strands intact).
Spaghetti Squash Gratin
- 2 small or 1 large spaghetti squash (4-1/2 - 5 pounds)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1-3/4 cup jarred marinara sauce, best quality such as Rao's
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
- 1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend (such as Fontina, Asiago and Parmesan)
- 1 tablespoon butter, melted
- 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
- Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Fill a large pot with about 2 inches of water and bring to a simmer. Place spaghetti squash in pot, cover with lid and simmer, turning once, for about 30 -40 minutes, or until squash is tender and easily pierced with a fork. Let cool.
- Cut squash in half and remove seeds. Use a spoon to scoop out flesh, being careful not to shred the strands (it is best to go from side to side, rather than lengthwise). Place strands in large bowl.
- Add extra virgin olive oil, marinara sauce, one teaspoon salt, pepper, and thyme to bowl and toss gently until squash is well coated with sauce. Taste and add more salt if necessary (I usually add quite a bit more but salt to your own taste). Transfer mixture to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle grated cheese evenly over top. Combine melted butter with panko and sprinkle evenly over top of cheese. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until top is golden. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.
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