Cutting your carbs? Giving up gluten? Avoiding allergens? Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti is more than just a substitute, it’s a stand out! Tender roasted spaghetti squash noodles smothered in a thick, rich meat sauce with no artificial additives is a perfect way to satisfy a classic craving without breaking your stride.
Let’s hear it for Italians! Thanks for making dieting THE WORST.
When most people begin new a regimen – be it for weight loss, clean living and detox, or overall improved health – they usually say (next to chocolate) pizza and pasta are the hardest things to give up. And while I’ll take tacos over pizza any day of the week, pasta was something I always struggled to part ways with.
Spaghetti squash to the rescue!
While it was never my favorite pasta, the classic satisfaction of spaghetti and red sauce is one you do NOT have to give up, thanks to Italian-style spaghetti squash pasta (only slightly less fun to say than chicken salad salad.) What this dish lacks in starch, it more than makes up for in flavor.
This recipe is *drum roll* low carb, gluten free, grain free, paleo, Whole30 compliant, and, if you can manage your portion size, keto friendly. What’s that? You need something vegetarian? Swap the Italian Meat Sauce out for Fresh Tomato Sauce or Whole30 Marinara Sauce.
I promise, you will sacrifice nothing by embracing this swap!
For a shorter post with just the ingredients and recipe instructions, click to view the web story for this spaghetti squash pasta recipe!
Yeah, Spaghetti Squash is Better Than Pasta
Of course “better” can be subjective, but in the sense of “better for you,” I stand by that claim. Of course I love pasta, but pasta can leave you feeling heavy.
Sweet and buttery spaghetti squash noodles are the perfect foil for a rich meat sauce. And because they’re grain free, this is a healthy, comfort food alternative for gluten free diets, or trying to keep close to keto.
Spaghetti squash pasta is really, really delicious when prepared the right way. Roasting instead of steaming the spaghetti squash yields a deeper flavor and more noodle-like texture. Plus, pairing with a well-seasoned, robust meat sauce keeps the focus on flavor. If you’re a skeptic, this is the recipe to get converted.
How to Make Spaghetti Squash Pasta with Meat Sauce
With all the makings of a classic spaghetti dinner, Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti is super satisfying without the carb overload. Simply roast your squash, prepare an easy Italian meat sauce, and serve with (or without) your favorite cheese and herbs for a perfetto finish.
Part 1: Roast the Squash
- DIVIDE. Using the tip of sharp paring knife, make tiny slits lengthwise around the squash. Go back over those cuts, making deeper cuts, until you’ve sliced all the way through the skin. This takes a little practice (and patience!) but it’s definitely the safest way to slice a squash in half for roasting.
- CLEAN. Scoop out the seeds – we like to use a melon baller, but a small spoon works great too.
- SEASON. Rub the flesh with oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- ROAST. Place cut side down on a baking sheet and roast in a 425°F oven for about 40 minutes, until the skin is browned and the edges are curling inward. It’s done when you can easily piece the skin with a fork.
Part 2: Make the Meat Sauce
- MEAT & ONIONS. Combine ground beef, sausage, and onion in a dutch oven or large soup pot. Cook over medium high heat until the meat is no longer pink and the onion is translucent. Add the garlic towards the end and cook 1 minute more.
- TOMATO PASTE & TOMATOES. Stir tomato paste into the meat mixture. Cook 2-3 minutes, until it’s completely worked in and no visible chunks remain. Add the canned tomatoes and stir.
- ADJUST FOR ACIDITY (optional). If you’re sensitive to acid, add ½ tsp baking soda.
- SEASON. Season with italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper. Give everything a good stir.
- SIMMER. Bring the sauce to a simmer and adjust the heat to maintain a slow, consistent simmer. Cook at least 30 minutes and up to 90 minutes, stirring occasionally, as sauce thickens.
Part 3: Bring it Together!
- SPAGHETTI BOWLS: gently rake squash noodles using the tines of a fork to loosen. Ladle sauce over squash, garnish as desired and serve in the bowls. Serve immediately.
- TRADITIONAL: gently rake squash noodles using the tines of a fork. Twist around the fork to remove, and transfer to a plate. Top with meat sauce and garnish as desired. Serve immediately.
- Exercise caution when slicing spaghetti squash. Use a very sharp knife and stable cutting surface. If you’re having difficulty, microwave the squash for 5 minutes AFTER cutting small slits indicated in Step 1.
- Unlike spaghetti, spaghetti squash isn’t that great al dente. Test for tenderness at the 40-minute mark. Keep roasting in 5-minute increments if it’s not quite there. Don’t worry – it will still keep its structure.
- If your squash winds up with excess moisture, strain in a colander or use paper towels to dry.
- Stir, stir, stir. Red sauces can easily scald. Stir the sauce while simmering every 20 minutes or so to prevent scalding.
- Layer those herbs. Add dried herbs prior to simmering, and fresh herbs just before serving. The combination of both contributes both complexity and brightness to the cooked sauce.
- Tomatoes need a lot of salt – my personal rule of thumb is 2 teaspoons kosher salt per 28-ounce can of tomatoes.
- Spice it up! Use spicy Italian sausage and add crushed red pepper flakes.
Make it Your Way
For Whole30 and Paleo: omit the ricotta and/or parmesan garnish
For Meal Prep: remove strands from the squash hull, and store the noodles and sauce separately. Heat separately, then combine.
More Spaghetti Squash Recipes
- Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Casserole
- Crockpot Bolognese with Roasted Spaghetti Squash
- Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
- Tuscan Chicken Over Spaghetti Squash
Did you make this spaghetti squash spaghetti recipe? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
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Roasted Spaghetti Squash
- 2 medium spaghetti squash
- 1 tbsp olive oil, or avocado oil
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp ground pepper
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 lb ground pork, or Italian sausage
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic
- 6-oz can tomato paste
- 2 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes, fire roasted if available
- 2 tsp italian seasoning
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground pepper
- pinch red pepper flakes
- ½ tsp baking soda, optional
- fresh chopped basil, for serving
- grated parmesan cheese, for serving
- ricotta cheese, for serving
Roasted Spaghetti Squash
- Heat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Slice the squash in half lengthwise (see notes), then coop out the seeds. Rub all over with 1 tbsp olive oil, then season the flesh with salt and pepper. Lay the squash cut side down on the prepared baking sheet and roast until the flesh is tender and the top is caving in, 35-40 minutes.
Meat Sauce (Makes a Double Portion)
- Heat a 6-quart dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat. Add the ground beef, italian sausage, and onion. Cook until the meat is no longer pink and the onion is translucent, breaking up the meat with a wood spoon as it cooks.
- Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute more.
- Add the tomato paste to the pot and stir into the meat mixture. Cook 2-3 minutes, or until the flavor deepens slightly and the tomato paste is completely worked in and no visible chunks remain.
- Add the canned tomatoes to the pot. Pour 2 tablespoons water into each can, swirl to release any clinging tomatoes, then pour the mixture into the pot.
- Add the italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper, if using. Optional – if you’re sensitive to acid, add ½ tsp baking soda. Stir to combine all ingredients.
- Increase the heat to bring the sauce to barely boiling, then adjust the heat to maintain a low, steady simmer (look for bubbles in the sauce that pop once every few seconds). Simmer at least 30 minutes and up to 90 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scalding. The sauce should thicken considerably.
- Reserve half the sauce for another purpose, or freeze to use later.
Put It Together!
- For spaghetti bowls: gently rake the squash noodles using the tines of a fork to loosen. Lade the meat sauce over the squash, then garnish as desired and serve in the bowls.
- For traditional serving: gently rake the squash noodles using the tines of a fork. Twist the noodles around the fork to remove, and transfer to a plate. Top the noodles with meat sauce, then garnish as desired. Serve immediately.