Spaghetti Squash Gratin
Spaghetti squash is like a gift from the diet gods. When cooked, it miraculously transforms into low carb, golden, spaghetti-like strands. Here, I’ve tossed it with with marinara sauce, sprinkled it lightly with crispy breadcrumbs and cheese and baked it in the oven until golden brown. It makes a wonderful vegetarian main course — trust me, you’ll feel virtuous eating it — or side dish to Italian sausage or meatballs.
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.
First, boil it in a covered pot for about 30 minutes, or until tender and easily pierced with fork.
Slice off the ends.
Cut in half lengthwise.
Remove the seeds.
Finally, use a spoon to scoop out flesh (go from side to side to keeps strands intact).
That’s all there is to it.
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 it to a simmer. Place the spaghetti squash in the pot, cover with a lid and simmer, turning once, for 30-40 minutes, or until the squash is tender and easily pierced with a fork. Let cool.
- Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh, being careful not to shred the strands (it is best to go from side to side, rather than lengthwise). Place the strands in large bowl.
- Add the extra virgin olive oil, marinara sauce, salt, pepper, and thyme to the bowl and toss gently until squash is well coated with the sauce. Taste and add more salt if necessary (I usually add quite a bit more but season to your own taste). Transfer the mixture to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle the grated cheese evenly over top. Combine the melted butter with the panko and sprinkle evenly over the top of the cheese. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until the top is golden. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.
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