Spaghetti squash marinara is a delicious alternative to pasta with tomato sauce. The texture is different, but the flavor is amazing!
Much of the flavor we associate with pasta or pizza really comes from the sauce and toppings, not necessarily from the grain. This is very apparent to me whenever I eat low-carb, vegetable-based substitutes for high-carb, grain-based recipes. Such as spaghetti squash with meat sauce, cauliflower pizza crust, or buttered zucchini noodles.
And this is exactly why spaghetti squash marinara is so good. You get to enjoy the familiar flavor of your past while keeping carbs and calories in check. It’s genius!
But does it taste like pasta?
No, but it’s close. And although the texture of the squash noodles is admittedly quite different than that of spaghetti, it’s not necessarily different in a bad way. It’s just different.
So once we adjust our expectations (as we must always do when making food substitutions), I think this a perfectly adequate (and good for you) substitute for “the real thing” and I do make it quite often for my family. Even my kids like it, which is always a good sign.
The ingredients you’ll need to make this recipe
You’ll only need a few simple ingredients to make spaghetti squash marinara. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here’s an overview of what you’ll need:
Spaghetti squash: I use a small 2-lb. squash in this recipe. You can use a larger squash, adjusting the cooking time and the amount of sauce you use accordingly.
Marinara sauce: Try to use a brand that has no added sugar such as Rao’s. And if you happen to have homemade sauce, that’s even better!
Grated parmesan cheese: You can also use coarsely shredded parmesan, although I personally prefer finely grated cheese.
How to make spaghetti squash marinara
Easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for the details. Here are the basic steps:
1. Your first step is to cook the spaghetti squash. You can either bake it in the oven or use the microwave. I like to cook it in the microwave – it’s easy, convenient, and fast.
2. When the squash is cooked, you cut it in half (carefully – it will be hot) and remove the seeds and the pulp. Now rake a fork back and forth over the squash’s flesh to create spaghetti-like strands. This is the fun part!
3. Now that you have the stands, you place them in a bowl and mix them with marinara sauce and with Parmesan. That’s it!
As mentioned above, I like to use high-quality store-bought marinara sauce (Rao’s is a good brand), but you can use homemade, of course.
What to serve with this dish?
What about leftovers?
I do recommend mixing the tomato sauce into the spaghetti squash strands at the very last minute, or the noodles can become soggy. For this reason, leftovers of this recipe are not as good as the freshly made dish.
However, don’t throw them out! You can keep them in the fridge, in an airtight container, for 3-4 days. Reheat them in the microwave, or put them in a small baking dish, sprinkle them with some Parmesan and bake in a 350F oven for 15 minutes.
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Spaghetti Squash Marinara
- 1 small spaghetti squash, about 2 lb.
- 1 cup marinara sauce, no added sugar (Rao’s is a great brand)
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- Heat your oven to 400 degrees F.
- Using a large, sharp knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise: place it on a sturdy cutting board, slice off the stem end of the squash, then stand the squash upright on this flat end and carefully use your knife to slice it in half.
- Using a spoon, remove the seeds and pulp.
- Place the squash halves, cut side down, in a 9 X 13 baking dish. Add enough water to come 1/2 inch up the sides of the baking dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake 45 minutes. Turn over (careful – the whole thing will be very hot), cover again and cook 15 more minutes, until very tender. Remove onto a cutting board and allow to slightly cool.
- Rake a fork back and forth across the squash to remove its flesh in strands. Divide among four plates. Pour the tomato sauce on top and sprinkle with the Parmesan. Don’t pre-mix the sauce into the strands – this will result in soggy “noodles.” Allow each diner to mix the sauce and cheese into their own spaghetti squash noodles.