For those nights when you just want pasta...without the pasta.

I live with a man who is crazy about his carb intake, and let me tell you: having given birth to two children, watching my weight fluctuate without regard for my diet or fitness regimen, Mr. Low Carb Man (AKA husband AKA the father of my children) has earned his fair share of eye rolls. 

But the man has a point, because he and I both actually have a gene that makes it hard for us to process more than 30 grams of carbohydrates per meal. As the resident cook in the family (he continues to refuse to learn, eleven years and 17 thousand pleas from me to the contrary), I have had to find meals that are both easy and lower carb to satisfy him. 

(OK, I don’t have to do it. I don’t have to do anything, and he could certainly fend for himself. And he does 80 percent of the time.)

But sometimes, I can find it in myself to move beyond my eye rolls (my eyes get tired anyway) and help him out.

I created this recipe in one of my more generous moods, and you know what? It’s darn good (because...of course it is). So whether you are on a low-carb diet, live with someone who is, or are just looking to switch up your pasta game, this recipe will do the trick.

Weeknight Spaghetti Squash PastaImage by Lauren Lobley

Weeknight Spaghetti Squash Pasta
Image by Lauren Lobley

If you or anyone in your family has never worked with spaghetti squash, you’ll think there is some kind of voodoo magic going on. I had been making spaghetti squash pasta forever, but my husband never actually witnessed it until last year. After I had roasted a whole spaghetti squash, cut it open, took out the seeds, and began removing the flesh, my husband walked in and asked, “Wow, is that a special fork?”

“What do you mean?” I asked him, confused.

“How do you get it to look like pasta?”

“Uh….” I said, trying not to laugh but also, well... laughing, “It’s the way it works, my love. This is how nature made spaghetti squash.”

“Wow,” he said, his mind completely blown.

In retrospect, I should have just told him I was a magician and called it a day. But hindsight is 2020, and, well, 2020 has been a bit of a sh*t show. So let’s just get to the recipe.

  • Duration
  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 4Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 whole spaghetti squash
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 large red onion (yellow will do too), thinly sliced
  • 3 cups arugula
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms (or mushrooms of your choice), roughly chopped
  • Avocado oil (for cooking)
  • A pinch of Himalayan pink sea salt
  • A pinch of ground black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil (for drizzling)

Preparation

1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Grab a fork and poke the spaghetti squash all over. Go ahead and feel free to get all of your anger out here. It’s fun!

2. Place the spaghetti squash on a baking sheet or in an oven-safe glass baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes on the middle rack, then flip (use oven mitts so you don’t burn your hands, please), and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the squash. You’ll know it’s done when the squash is soft and a fork goes in and out easily. If you’re struggling to get the fork in and out, it’s not ready.

3. In the meantime, toast the pine nuts over medium heat in a small saucepan. You’ve got to watch these little suckers, because one minute they are barely toasted, and the next, they are burnt. So do this slowly, moving them around in the pan every few minutes. Once they start to brown, don’t walk away from the stove. Keep moving them around until they are the perfect golden color. Remove them from the heat and set aside.

4. Next, caramelize the onions. Heat a larger pan with a tablespoon or two of avocado oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions and a pinch of sea salt. Toss until coated, then spread out in the pan. Cook for a good 30-40 minutes to caramelize, tossing every five minutes or so. If you find they are starting to get too dark too quickly, turn the heat all the way down to low. Once the sugars start coming out closer to the end of the cooking process, the onions will begin to cook faster and faster, so watch them carefully to keep from burning them.

5. In another pan, heat up another tablespoon of avocado oil over medium heat. Add in your chopped mushrooms along with another pinch of salt (consider this article on how to cook mushrooms if you want to make them baller). Keep tossing every few minutes until they are soft. Total cooking time should be about five to ten minutes. Set aside.

6. When the onions are ready, add the minced garlic to the pan and toss. Cook until aromatic, about a minute or two. Remove the whole pan from the heat and set aside.

7. Once the squash is ready, let it cool for a few minutes, and then place it on a cutting board. Cut off the top and bottom, and then cut it in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to remove the seeds, then use a fork to get the magic pasta strands out into a large bowl. Consider convincing anyone watching that doesn’t know about spaghetti squash that you are a magician. (Optional but highly encouraged).

8. Top the squash with the onions, garlic, and pine nuts. Add the arugula, and toss with tongs or salad servers. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

9. To serve, place in a bowl and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Garnish with pine nuts. Consider serving this with your favorite meatballs and a salad, or just enjoy it on its own.

*An important note about oil* – I was once told by a functional medicine doctor that in his practice, one of the biggest causes of oxidative stress in his patient’s tissues was cooking with extra-virgin olive oil. The smoke point for extra virgin olive oil is around 350F, so if you’re cooking above that temperature (which most of us do), it’s better to use an oil with a higher smoke point, like avocado or coconut.

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