Roasted Spaghetti Squash with 15-Minute Marinara is a simple, plant-based alternative to traditional pasta dishes! Top with your favorite protein source for an easy weeknight meal!
January is a complicated month for those of us living in the northern hemisphere.
On the one hand, we want to put on our sweatpants, curl up by the fire, and hibernate under a blanket with a big bowl of mac and cheese. But then there’s those pesky New Years resolutions lingering in the back of your mind, reminding us of our intentions for a healthier year. So alas, we put away the comfort food and settle for a plate full of baked chicken and steamed broccoli instead (not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course – but it likely won’t satisfy those comfort food cravings)
As a dietitian, I’m all about balance and listening to your body. If you’re craving a cookie, then chances are, I’m going to tell you to eat the cookie. Eat it, enjoy it, move on. Unnecessary dietary restrictions and failure to address food cravings will likely only result in binges later on. That being said, part of listening to your body and honoring your cravings means tuning in to what it is your body is trying to tell you. It may sound silly, but what is it that you’re really craving? Is it the food itself or is it the emotions that go along with it?
In the winter, I often find myself craving a big bowl of pasta. While pasta is certainly not the gluttonous demon food that it is frequently made out to be (although it is quite glutenous – see what I did there?), it’s also not necessarily the “lightest” of foods. As much as I love pasta, I often feel weighed down and sluggish after eating it – not exactly an ideal feeling, especially when you’re trying to “get back on track” after the New Year.
But I’ve come to realize that my pasta cravings often have less to do with the pasta itself and more to do with the feelings that I associate with a bowl full of noodles: warmth, comfort, familiarity. Roasted spaghetti squash with homemade marinara elicits these same feelings, without the post-pasta food coma. Not to mention, I feel pretty legit making homemade sauce (no one will even know it came together in only 15 minutes!)
Whether you’re trying to add more vegetables into your life or simply looking to mix up your usual winter pasta routine, roasted spaghetti squash is for you. Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it tastes exactly like pasta, because it doesn’t. So if what you’re really craving is a bowl of carb-filled noodles, then I recommend you dish yourself up a portion of whole-wheat noodles instead (or go halvsies and mix the noodles with the spaghetti squash!). BUT if you’re simply yearning for a meal that will warm you up from the inside out, then look no further. This meal has got that covered. Go the extra mile and amp up the coziness factor by making your own easy stovetop marinara sauce – all it takes is 15 minutes and 5 pantry ingredients!
PS: Be sure to check back soon for a delicious plant-based recipe to serve with this Roasted Spaghetti Squash with 15-Minute Marinara!
- 1 medium spaghetti squash (2-3 pounds)
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1-28oz can of crushed tomatoes (no salt added)
- 1 scant tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1 bay leaf
- salt and pepper, to taste (I used about ¼ tsp each)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Using a large sharp chef’s knife, carefully cut the squash lengthwise (to make the squash easier to cut, microwave on half-power on its side for 4-5 minutes, flipping halfway through).
- Use a large spoon to scoop out flesh and seeds; discard.
- Place two cut halves of squash cut-side down in a baking dish. Add just enough water to cover the bottom of the baking dish (this essentially helps the squash to steam and remain tender in the oven).
- Roast for 40-50 minutes (depending on size of squash), until a fork easily penetrates the flesh. Allow to rest for 5 minutes, or until cool enough to handle.
- Using a fork, scrape the flesh into a large bowl using a rake-like motion. You should be left with spaghetti-like strands.
- In a medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.
- Add garlic and sauté, stirring frequently, until fragrant (be careful not to burn!)
- Add crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and bay leaf and stir to combine.
- Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove from heat and discard bay leaf.
- Serve marinara over warm spaghetti squash noodles.
- Marinara sauce slightly adapted from: Skinnytaste's Quick Marinara Sauce