It’s a low-carb pasta alternative

Spaghetti squash can be cooked and tossed and served with a variety of sauces and toppings, making a tasty low-carb alternative

Spaghetti squash is so much more than just a low-carb alternative to pasta. This nutritious fall vegetable is a healthy alternative to pasta for a main dish, but it also serves well as a tasty side.

On a no-pasta diet? Spaghetti squash is a great stand-in for carb-dense noodles.

Spaghetti Squash Burrito Bowls

2 medium sized spaghetti squash

1 Tbsp. high heat oil (I use sunflower oil)

1 large red onion, sliced

1 large bell pepper or two small, cored and sliced

2 jalapenos, cored and sliced (optional)

1 (14.5 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 (16 ounce) jar of salsa (use your preferred level of spiciness)

2 Tbsp. olive oil (or preferred cooking oil)

2 cups corn kernels, frozen and defrosted or fresh

1 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped

6 green onions, sliced (optional)

1 teaspoon cumin

Salt & pepper

1 cup shredded cheddar/Monterey jack cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 F and line a cookie sheet with foil OR fill a 9 x 13” glass baking dish with about an inch of water. If you’re making the full recipe, you’ll have four bowls total (or four halves of squash) so you’ll probably need two separate cookie sheets or baking dishes (or one of each).

Cut each squash in half lengthwise and then use a spoon to scrap out the seeds and the darker yellow strands that the seeds are attached to. Rub a little bit of high heat oil on the inner edges of the squash and then place each half face down on the baking sheet/dish. Roast in oven for 30-45 minutes, depending on the size (longer for larger squash). You can test to see if it’s done by scraping the inside with a fork. Strands should come loose as you scrape all the way down to the flesh.

While the squash is roasting, prepare the filling by warming one tablespoon oil in a large pan over medium heat. Sauté the red onion for a few minutes and then add the peppers and jalapeno. Sprinkle with salt & pepper and cumin and cook to desired softness. I like mine with a little crunch so I only cook them about 6-7 minutes.

When the squash is done cooking, allow it to cool for a few minutes before handling. Turn the oven to broil and then transfer the squash to a surface where you can scrape the inside and begin stuffing.

Scrape about 3/4 of the inside out onto a dish and then layer the filling inside (black beans and corn, peppers and onion, salsa and cilantro). Top with the spaghetti squash and press down then add another layer of filling. Sprinkle green onion on top and then finish with shredded cheese. Broil in the oven about 5 minutes so that the cheese is bubbly and golden brown, then serve!

Spaghetti Squash Salad

1 spaghetti squash

1 cup of prepared pesto

1 cup of sun dried tomatoes, chopped

1/4 cup of parsley, chopped

2 Tbsp. of balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place squash onto a baking sheet and pierce with a paring knife. Roast it for 45 minutes, until it is very soft. When it’s cool enough to handle, cut it in half and scoop out the spaghetti-like flesh. Place in a large bowl and add the pesto, sun dried tomatoes, parsley, vinegar and olive oil. Toss well and season with salt and pepper.

Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s longtime food columnist, appearing every other Wednesday and one Sunday per month.