Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Parmesan and Mushrooms
This Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Parmesan and Mushrooms is the cosmic loop of my childhood eating habits.
Reflecting on my childhood dinner table behavior, I’d like to remember myself as a demure young lady with tastes beyond her years, who never ever complained about what her mother served, and who polished off her green beans with gusto. When asked what I’d like for dinner, this little girl of my memory would enthusiastically request a spicy curry, hearty root vegetable stew, or well-balanced seasonal salad. (Mom, are you laughing yet?)
The truth is, as much as I relish a varied and colorful array of flavors and ingredients now, as a kid, I was a fairly picky eater. Although I’d finish my vegetables eventually, dessert bribery was nearly always involved, especially if said vegetable were green.
One of the few vegetables I met with genuine enthusiasm was roasted spaghetti squash, sprinkled with cinnamon and brown sugar. I could happily devour an entire baked spaghetti squash and call it a meal, especially when permitted free reign over the cinnamon shaker.
At some point I must have reached capacity for baked spaghetti squash-for-dinner, because as soon as I left home and started cooking for myself, spaghetti squash—the vegetable I adored above all others from the ages of eight to 18—fell off my radar completely. I became smitten with its more enticing an arguably more versatile orange cousin, butternut squash, instead. Poor old spaghetti squash went the way of my old stuffed animals: once cherished, still thought of pleasantly, but mostly rarely thought of at all.
Then, a few weeks ago when passing the tower of winter squash that has stationed itself with an air of eerie permanence in the center of the grocery store produce section, I noticed how the spaghetti squash seemed to be cast to the side. Its pale color was nearly lost among the brighter acorns, delicatas, and sugar pumpkins, and for whatever bizarre reason, I felt a little sorry for it. Remembering how much I loved spaghetti squash as a kid, I decided to take it home and see what might become of it.
As you have likely deduced, wise reader that you are, the answer is Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Parmesan and Mushrooms. I’d originally intended for this baked spaghetti squash recipe to be a side, but by the time I’d tossed it with meaty mushrooms and fresh spinach, showered it in Parmesan cheese, and lightly sautéed it with an irresponsible amount of garlic, it had become a full meal that could stand on its own. I’ve seen dozens of other recipes that swap shredded roasted spaghetti squash for actual spaghetti, but I didn’t believe this idea could be so yummy and satisfying until I tried it myself.
This Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Parmesan and Mushrooms is one of my favorite meals that I’ve made for myself in a long time, and I highly recommend it on a cozy evening beside a glass of cool Chardonnay.
So mom, more than 20 years later, the little girl who could eat a roasted spaghetti squash for dinner is at it again. I know I would have refused to touch the mushrooms back then, but I hope there is some comfort in the fact that I love them (and almost everything else) now. This recipe is my roasted spaghetti squash, all grown up.
Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Parmesan and Mushrooms
- 1 medium spaghetti squash — about 2 pounds
- 1 tablespoon olive oil — plus additional for drizzling on squash
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt — divided
- 16 ounces sliced cremini baby bella mushrooms
- 2 cloves garlic — minced
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme — or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley — plus additional for serving as desired
- 3 cups fresh spinach — roughly chopped
- 4 ounces freshly grated Parmesan — plus additional for serving as desired
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Set aside.
Halve the spaghetti squash and remove the seeds. Lightly drizzle and rub the insides and outsides of the squash with olive oil, sprinkle the insides of each half with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, then place cut sides down on the prepared baking sheet. Bake the squash until fork tender, about 25 minutes. Let rest for 10-15 minutes, until cool enough to handle, then shred in insides into strands with a fork. Set aside.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium high. Add the mushrooms and sauté until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper, then sauté until fragrant, about 1 additional minute. Add the chopped spinach by handfuls, allowing it to wilt, then adding more as it will fit into your skillet. Cook just until all of the spinach wilts, about 2 minutes.
Add the shredded squash to the skillet, then cook just until heated through, about 2 minutes. Taste and add additional salt and pepper as desired. Stir in the Parmesan and parsley. Serve warm, topped with additional parsley and Parmesan as desired.
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