Spaghetti squash makes a great foil for low carb pasta and can be used as a bed for sauces, as a ragu, or in any dish where a traditional pasta might be found (i.e., spaghetti and meatballs). “Stuffed” dishes are always appealing and fun, so I’ve used the spaghetti squash shell as the bowl in this dish and stuffed it with chicken, enchilada sauce and, of course, the spaghetti squash.
Tips for Cooking Spaghetti Squash as a Low Carb Pasta Foil:
Spaghetti squash is pretty simple to cook and can be ready in 10 minutes. Some people cook winter squash in an oven to get the full richness of a nutty winter squash. It’s not really necessary with spaghetti squash however, as the taste is so much lighter. I usually cook them like this:
- cut them in half lengthwise
- take a large spoon and scrape out the seeds
- turn them flesh-side-down onto a plate and microwave for 10 minutes
- let cool enough to handle them (or use a mitt) and then take a fork and scrape out the strands from the shell. They come out looking like…….well, like spaghetti!
The texture is very similar to spaghetti noodles. Pasta in and of itself doesn’t have much flavor and is used more often as a way to provide texture and substance. The sauce needs something to cling to and spaghetti squash provides a good form for that.
Many people on low carb diets use zucchini noodles for a low carb pasta base and that works fine also. Spaghetti squash is a bit more nutritious and I think it has more “mouthfeel” than the vegetable noodles that you can now get in the grocery store. In our household spaghetti squash is the Fall pasta and zucchini noodles are the Spring and Summer pasta.
Adaptations for the Stuffed Spaghetti Squash Recipe Below:
The chicken in this recipe is easy, but it is fairly bland and needs a spice mix of some sort to liven it up. I used the harissa spice mix that we sell online, but we now carry an Enchilada spice mix that I will try next time. There is a wide range of readily available spice mixes that would be good. Choose your favorite and go with it.
The type of protein could also be easily switched up. Ground pork sauteed until no longer pink would be a good substitution for chicken. Hamburger or ground beef would work fine also. Any protein of your choice would work as long as it is shredded or fine enough to mix well with the somewhat delicate strands of squash.
Changing up the variety of cheese is another option, as is adding some sauteed onions or other vegetables. It’s really a great dish to experiment with as it’s tough to destroy it! In my humble opinion it also tastes better than noodles and is the best alternative for a low carb pasta base.
Low Carb Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
- Sauce pan
- 2 Skinless chicken breasts
- 1 large Spaghetti squash halved lengthwise and seeded
- 1 1/2 cup red enchilada sauce divided
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp spice mix I used harissa, use your favorite spice mix – many would work
- 1 cup shredded pepper Jack cheese
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
- Add the chicken to a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a boil. After it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the chicken about 15 minutes, or until no longer pink on inside. Remove the chicken to a cutting board and let it cool a bit so you can handle it
- While the chicken is cooking, microwave the squash by placing the halved, seeded squash on a plate flesh-side down and microwaving for 10 minutes (or until flesh is tender).
- When the chicken is cool enough to work with, shred the chicken breasts with two forks or your hands and place in a large bowl.
- When the squash is cool enough to work with use a fork to scrape the squash from the shells into the bowl with the chicken. Set the intact shells aside. Add 1 cup enchilada sauce, 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp spice mix to the chicken/squash mixture. Mix everything together thoroughly.
- Place the shells on a broiler-safe pan and divide the mixture between the shells. Top with the remaining 1/2 cup enchilada sauce and the shredded cheese.
- Bake on the lower rack for 10 minutes. If a deeper browned cheese crust is desired, move pan to the upper rack and turn the broiler to high for a couple of minutes (watch carefully)
- To serve, cut each shell in half (they are filling, 1/4 shell is often enough for 1 serving). I considered this recipe to be 2-4 servings depending on the person.
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