Meatless Monday: Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

In college, my nutrition professor affectionately called the holiday season "National Overeating Month." I remember thinking "the old man by the podium is a Holiday Food Gringe!" Then 10 seconds later, I realized how much truth there was to his statement. I certainly did my fair share of overeating (a lot of which were junky treats) this past month. It's as if the liberation from school liberated my eating habits, too.

So my redemption came when I attended a pot-luck party. Expecting half a cow and a quarter of a lamb to be on the dinner buffet, I purposefully brought a vegetarian dish to balance things out... just a tad. My dish was also a vehicle for injecting some healthfulness back into my own holiday eating spree.

Stuffed Spaghetti Squash with Red Quinoa, Portabella, and Swiss Chard 
Any kind of grain or quinoa would work here, but I chose red quinoa because it's a nice contrast with the golden hue of the squash.

The ingredients list:
Spaghetti squash 
Portabella or crimini mushrooms (portabella have more woodsy flavor)
Red Swiss chard 
Shredded carrot
Vegetable broth
Dried or fresh thyme
Grated cheese (optional; Dubliner used in original recipe) 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
Hack spaghetti squash in half lengthwise (yes, hack). Sharp knife and steady hands will make this step less dangerous. Hollow out seeds.
Sprinkle sea salt and thyme and roast squash cut-side down (at 375 degrees, it took mine about 45 minutes).
Meanwhile, prepare the stuffing. Cook quinoa with vegetable stock (usually 1 cup of quinoa to 2 cups of stock, but to ensure I didn't get a soggy stuffing, I used a 1:1 1/2 ratio here).
Finely dice celery, carrot, and onion. The objective is to have all the ingredients for the stuffing be about the same size. Saute onions first then add the others. Add a sprinkling of thyme and cook to retain crispiness (the stuffing will cook more in the oven later).
Dice mushroom and rough chop chard. Cook the 2 separately. Mushrooms tend to give off some liquid during the cooking process. If there is an excess, pour out juice before cooking chard. 
Combine quinoa, celery, carrot, onion, mushroom, and chard together in a big bowl. Add salt and freshly ground pepper if desired.
When squash is done, you should be able to run a fork through it lengthwise and get tiny shreds (my favorite part!). Make room for stuffing by hollowing out most of the squash. You can leave some around the edges. Collect shredded squash in a separate bowl.
Reinforce squash with aluminum foil before stuffing if the shell cracked during roasting (as mine did).
Scoop quinoa mixture into squash shell. Fill about 80% and then top with spaghetti squash (it's like a cheese topping!). A generous sprinkle of grated cheese if desired. 
Return to oven and heat to melt cheese and develop flavors. About 15 minutes on 375 degrees. 
For a vegan version, simply skip the cheese on top or use a vegan cheese instead.

Extra quinoa mixture makes a terrific lunch! Leftover spaghetti squash can be used as a side dish later in the week or have it with meatballs... just like spaghetti!

Winter squash like spaghetti squash are in season. Give this recipe and other animal-friendly meals a try this Meatless Monday.


delwin said...

Definitely a good way to use some of the spaghetti squash

Suzanne said...

Definitely trying this! It looks delicious Elizabeth. I like the idea of putting the scooped out squash on top!

Amanda said...

I even have a Spaghetti Squash sitting in my fridge right now! This sounds delicious! I will have to try it!

Terry said...

That's a really good idea to put a little sign on your dish to describe what it is. I go to pot lucks and sometimes you just don't know what you are looking at.

Liz - Meal Makeover Mom said...

This recipe looks amazing. So many of my favorite ingredients ... especially red quinoa!

Pat J said...

Mmmm. I made this last night, sort of. I added half a bell pepper to the recipe, and some garlic, and I ended up using spinach since I couldn't find any chard.

It was go-o-o-o-o-ood.

HEALing Foodie said...

@ Pat J: Glad you personalized the recipe and found the stuffed squash to be amazing!

j said...

I have to try this - I wish I saw it earlier. My last attempt with spaghetti squash was an utter disaster (aka bitter mushy blob)!

Yvonne said...

Yum!! I love spaghetti squash! I will try your recipe!!

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