Caprese Baked Spaghetti Squash
Dec 18, 2023, Updated Jan 09, 2024
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Baked spaghetti squash, roasted to perfection with garlic and herbs and tossed with tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella caprese!
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Spaghetti Squash With Mozzarella, Tomatoes, and Basil
Baked Spaghetti Squash Tossed with Caprese Salad is a dish that artfully bridges the gap between comfort food and fresh, garden-inspired fare. It’s a delightful twist on traditional pasta dishes, offering a lighter and more nutritious base with the spaghetti squash, while still satisfying that craving for something hearty and fulfilling.
Firstly, spaghetti squash is a marvel in its own right. When baked, its flesh pulls apart in strands that closely resemble spaghetti noodles, but with a fraction of the calories and carbohydrates. This makes it an excellent choice for those looking for a healthier or gluten-free alternative to pasta. Its mild, slightly sweet flavor makes it a versatile base that beautifully absorbs the flavors of whatever it’s paired with.
Enter the caprese salad component – a simple yet elegant Italian salad made with ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil, usually seasoned with olive oil, salt, and balsamic vinegar. The sweetness of the tomatoes, creaminess of the mozzarella, and the aromatic freshness of basil create a symphony of flavors and textures that’s both refreshing and deeply satisfying.
Combining these two elements – the baked spaghetti squash and the caprese salad – results in a dish that’s light yet comforting, simple yet sophisticated. The squash provides a warm, subtly sweet base that contrasts nicely with the cool, juicy tomatoes and creamy mozzarella. The addition of a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar brings a tangy richness, tying all the components together.
This dish is perfect for those evenings when you want a meal that’s easy and quick to prepare yet feels special and indulgent. It’s also incredibly versatile – equally suited for a casual weeknight dinner, a healthy lunch, or even as a side dish in a more elaborate dining setup. The vibrant colors of the tomatoes and basil also make it visually appealing, so it’s sure to impress if you’re cooking for others.
How to Make Caprese Baked Spaghetti Squash
To make this recipe, we will need the following ingredients:
- Spaghetti Squash: Serves as the base, offering a light, mildly sweet, and slightly nutty flavor. It’s a great low-carb and gluten-free substitute for traditional pasta.
- Olive Oil: Adds richness and helps in roasting the squash, bringing out its natural sweetness.
- Campari Tomatoes: These tomatoes are sweeter and juicier, adding a burst of fresh flavor and a vibrant color.
- Mozzarella Balls: Introduce a creamy, soft texture and a mild, milky taste. They add a delightful contrast to the other textures.
- Basil: This herb is quintessential in Caprese, offering a fresh, peppery, and slightly sweet flavor.
- Rosemary: Adds a fragrant, earthy, and slightly lemon-pine flavor, which complements the squash beautifully.
- Pine Nuts: Provide a subtle nutty crunch, adding another layer of texture.
- Red Pepper Flakes: A pinch can add a slight kick, balancing the dish’s sweetness with a bit of heat.
- Italian Herbs Seasoning: Typically a blend of herbs like oregano, thyme, and basil. This adds a classic Italian flavor that ties all the ingredients together.
Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, we will use the following process:
Preheat the Oven: Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
Prepare the Squash: Carefully cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and any stringy bits from the center.
Season and Bake: Place the two halves of the squash, cut-side up, on a baking sheet. Place 1 tablespoon of butter in each half. Season the squash with 1 teaspoon of garlic salt and 1/2 teaspoon of Italian herbs.
Marinate the Cheese: In a small bowl, add olive oil, chopped basil, red pepper flakes, salt, diced tomatoes, chopped rosemary and mix. Let marinate as squash bakes.
Bake the Squash: Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake for about 30-40 minutes or until the squash is tender. The flesh should easily separate into spaghetti-like strands with a fork.
Sauté the Squash: After squash has baked and been shredded, toss in the skillet to coat with the butter and oil. Season with the remaining garlic salt and Italian herbs. Sauté for about 5-7 minutes, or until the squash is heated through and has absorbed the flavors.
Mix: Add caprese salad to baked spaghetti squash and toss. Mix well.
Serve: Plate the sautéed spaghetti squash and top it with grated Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes (adjust to your desired level of spiciness), and a pinch of minced parsley for a pop of freshness. I like to serve spaghetti squash back in the hollowed-out shell for a fun presentation.
Enjoy: Your delicious and buttery spaghetti squash is ready to be enjoyed as a flavorful and low-carb side dish or even as a light main course.
Tips and Tricks for Perfect Caprese Baked Spaghetti Squash
Choose the Right Squash: Look for spaghetti squash that’s firm and free from soft spots or blemishes. Size-wise, a medium squash is usually the best for even cooking.
Roasting the Squash: Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast cut-side down until tender. This method helps caramelize the edges, adding more flavor.
Fork Fluffing: Once baked, let the squash cool slightly, then use a fork to scrape out the flesh. This technique turns the squash into spaghetti-like strands.
Quality Ingredients for Caprese: Use ripe Campari tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil leaves for the best taste. The quality of these ingredients greatly influences the dish.
Seasoning the Squash: Before adding the Caprese mixture, season the squash strands with a bit more olive oil, salt, and pepper. This ensures every bite is flavorful.
Balancing the Flavors: Drizzle the finished dish with a good quality balsamic glaze or reduction. It adds a sweet and tangy contrast to the fresh flavors.
Garnish Wisely: A sprinkle of fresh basil on top not only adds freshness but also makes the dish visually appealing.
Cheese Considerations: Tear the mozzarella balls into smaller pieces for even distribution, and add them while the squash is still warm so they melt slightly.
Toasting Pine Nuts: If using pine nuts, toast them lightly in a dry pan to enhance their flavor and add a nutty crunch.
Serving Immediately: Serve the dish right after assembling to enjoy the contrast of warm squash and cool, fresh Caprese salad.
Customizing: Feel free to add extras like grilled chicken for protein or a sprinkle of red pepper flakes for a little heat.
Cooking in Stages: You can roast the squash ahead of time and then reheat it briefly in the oven before adding the Caprese toppings.
It’s a winter squash that, when cooked, separates into strands similar to spaghetti noodles. It’s low in calories and carbs but high in vitamins and minerals.
Cut it lengthwise from stem to base. Be sure to use a sharp knife and exercise caution, as the squash can be quite tough.
Yes, for a quicker method, you can microwave the squash. Just cut it in half, remove the seeds, and cook it cut-side down in a dish with a little water for about 10-15 minutes.
The flesh should be tender and easily shredded with a fork into strands.
Absolutely! While fresh mozzarella is traditional for Caprese, feel free to experiment with other cheeses like burrata or feta.
Ripe, juicy tomatoes like Campari, Roma, or cherry tomatoes work well. The key is that they should be fresh and flavorful.
Add protein like grilled chicken or chickpeas, or bulk it up with leafy greens like spinach or arugula.
You can roast the squash ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator. When ready to eat, reheat the squash and add the fresh Caprese toppings.
Serve it warm with the Caprese mixture on top. You can drizzle with balsamic glaze and add fresh basil for garnish.
What to Serve With Caprese Baked Spaghetti Squash
Salad: A fresh garden salad with a variety of greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and a light vinaigrette dressing pairs well with the richness of the Caprese spaghetti squash.
Bread: A side of crusty Italian bread or garlic bread can be great for soaking up any extra sauce and adding a crunchy texture to your meal.
Wine: A glass of white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay, complements the flavors of the Caprese. If you prefer red, a light-bodied wine like Pinot Noir can also pair nicely.
Soup: A light soup, such as a tomato basil or a minestrone, can be a great starter that echoes the Italian flavors in the spaghetti squash.
Grilled Vegetables: Grilled asparagus, zucchini, or bell peppers add a nice charred flavor and provide a healthy and colorful side dish.
Protein: For those wanting a bit more substance, adding grilled chicken or shrimp to the meal can provide a protein boost.
Herb Garnish: A sprinkle of fresh basil or oregano on top of the spaghetti squash can enhance its flavor.
Olive Oil: A drizzle of high-quality extra virgin olive oil over the top before serving can add a rich, fruity flavor to the dish.
Balsamic Reduction: A balsamic reduction drizzled over the top adds a touch of sweetness and acidity, complementing the Caprese elements.
Cheese: Offering a small platter of Italian cheeses, like Parmesan or Pecorino, allows guests to add an extra cheesy touch to their plate.
Caprese Baked Spaghetti Squash Recipe
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- 1 spaghetti squash
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 cup campari tomatoes, diced
- 1 cup small mozzarella balls
- 1/4 cup chopped basil
- 1 sprig rosemary, chopped
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons Italian herbs seasoning, divided
- 1 tablespoon celtic or kosher salt
- Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Carefully cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and any stringy bits from the center.
- Place the two halves of the squash, cut-side up, on a baking sheet. Place 1 tablespoon of butter in each half. Season the squash with 1 teaspoon of garlic salt and 1/2 teaspoon of Italian herbs.
- In a small bowl, add 3 tablespoons olive oil, chopped basil, red pepper flakes, salt, diced tomatoes, chopped rosemary and mix. Let marinate as squash bakes.
- Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake for about 30-40 minutes or until the squash is tender. The flesh should easily separate into spaghetti-like strands with a fork - simply pull on squash, using fork like a rake, to shred squash into "spaghetti".
- After the squash has baked and you've pulled "spaghetti" strands, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and add spaghetti squash when shimmery. Toss them in the skillet to coat them with the oil. Sauté for about 5-7 minutes, or until the squash is heated through and has absorbed the flavors.
- Add caprese salad to baked spaghetti squash and toss. Mix well.
- Plate the sautéed spaghetti squash. I like to serve spaghetti squash back in the hollowed-out shell for a fun presentation.
- Your delicious and buttery spaghetti squash is ready to be enjoyed as a flavorful and low-carb side dish or even as a light main course!
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Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 364Total Fat 29gSaturated Fat 8gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 19gCholesterol 30mgSodium 1284mgCarbohydrates 20gFiber 5gSugar 8gProtein 10g
Nutrition is automatically calculated by Nutritionix - please verify all nutrition information independently and consult with a doctor or nutritionist for any and all medical and diet advice.