This turned out to be by far the most exciting spaghetti squash recipe I’ve tried in a while. I made it for lunch today and was happy to see that my kids left only paper-thin shells behind. All the veggies – spaghetti squash, onions, carrots, zucchini, bell peppers, parsley – everything went. It’s like mac and cheese, only without macaroni and loaded with veggies enveloped in creamy cheese sauce, and served in a cool squash bowl. No Velveeta junk in there either. Only the good stuff. This spaghetti squash with creamy cheese and veggie twist is a rock star!
The idea for this recipe was inspired by the Mac and Cheese with a Veggie Twist recipe on Government of Canada’s healthy eating website. I can’t say I am a fan of mac and cheese, just never developed a taste for it, but the idea of a cheesy sauce loaded with vegetables sounded very appealing. I modified the original recipe to make it a little thicker (more flour) and to substitute butter for margarine. The thinking behind suggesting margarine is well-intentioned, I am sure, but I’ll stick to real foods.
To take it a step further, I thought it would be cool to use spaghetti squash in place of macaroni and serve the dish in spaghetti squash shells. It worked amazingly well.
To make the shells stand up right, place them in 4″ or so ramekins. If you don’t have those, use small bowls or something similar.
- 2 small spaghetti squash (about 7-8" in length, 4 - 4½" in diameter)
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper (about ½ large bell pepper)
- ½ cup grated zucchini (about ½ small zucchini), drained
- 4 Tbsp all purpose flour
- 2 cups skim milk
- 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme (or ½ tsp dried thyme leaves)
- 2 cups shredded old Cheddar cheese (white and/or yellow)
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp kosher salt plus more to taste
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Cut the spaghetti squash in half crosswise. Sprinkle with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Place the squash cut side down on a baking dish and roast for 30 to 45 minutes. A shorter roast will give you a crunchier, al dente texture, while a longer, 45-minute roast will result in a very soft texture. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool down a little.
- Meanwhile, heat the butter over medium heat in a large sauce pan. Add the onion and garlic and saute them for 1 minute, until they become fragrant. Add the carrot, red bell pepper and zucchini and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables have softened up. After that, add the flour and stir thoroughly until it's well incorporated. Pour in the milk, constantly stirring. Add the thyme and cook for about 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to boil. At this point, stir in the shredded cheese and mustard. Add one 1 teaspoon of salt and ¼ tsp of black pepper. Stir and taste for salt. Add more if needed. Remove from heat and stir until the cheese has fully melted.
- Insert the squash halves cut site up into 4-inch ramekins. Ladle the cheese sauce into spaghetti squash halves, garnish with chopped parsley and Parmesan cheese and serve.
- Alternatively, using a large spoon, scoop out spaghetti squash flesh into a bowl. Add the cheese sauce, mix, then spoon back into shells. Top with chopped parsley, grated Parmesan cheese and serve.
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