Simple methods for cooking spaghetti squash

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year — the change in weather, Thanksgiving, pumpkin-flavored everything … and spaghetti squash! I discovered this little ol’ vegetable a few years ago and have been a fan ever since. I only wish I’d tried it sooner! It’s also pretty cheap, too. I purchased a small one at my local grocery store for $1.29 per pound! And trust me, you’re likely to have leftovers no matter the size.

Not only is spaghetti squash budget-friendly, but it’s easy to cook, super tasty and offers a new spin on an Italian classic. There are variety of ways to cook and cut it, too. Below are my go-to methods.

 
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oven method

Roasting it in the oven is the best way to go. While it is more time consuming than using the microwave, the squash will come out more flavorful.

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees

  2. Rinse your spaghetti squash clean

  3. Cut the squash in half, right through the middle. You can cut it stem to end, but that requires more cutting and the strands will be much shorter. If you cut right through the middle, the strands will be longer and more spaghetti-like.

  4. Scoop out all the seeds (and save them for roasting if you’d like!)

  5. Lightly brush the inside of the squash with a little olive or avocado oil and top with salt

  6. Place the squash halves cut-side down on a baking sheet

  7. Roast in the oven for 40-50 minutes, depending on the size of your squash

  8. Take the squash out of oven and let cool for a few minutes

  9. Fork out the strands of squash onto your plate and serve with your favorite topping(s)

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microwave method

If you’re short on time, the microwave-method is your best bet.

  1. Rinse your spaghetti squash clean

  2. Cut the squash in half, right through the middle. You can cut it stem to end, but that requires more cutting and the strands will be much shorter. If you cut right through the middle, the strands will be longer and more spaghetti-like.

  3. Scoop out all the seeds (and save them for roasting if you’d like!)

  4. Lightly brush the inside of the squash with a little olive or avocado oil and top with salt

  5. Place the squash halves cut-side down in a baking dish

  6. Fill the dish with about an inch of water

  7. Place in the microwave and cook for 10-12 minutes, depending on the size of your squash

  8. Take the squash out of the microwave and let cool for a few minutes

  9. Fork out the strands of squash onto your plate and serve with your favorite topping(s)

Treat the squash like you would any old spaghetti noodles. I tend to pair mine with Alfredo or butternut squash sauce, a little salt and some Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel Seasoning Blend — so good. I hope you all love spaghetti squash as much as I do!

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Simple and spicy Mexican stuffed bell peppers

This is one of my favorite recipes of all time thanks to my grandma. She usually stuffs her green bell peppers with ground beef, sauce, corn, rice and tops it all of with a slice of cheese — super easy and so, so tasty. I rarely attempt her recipes because for one, she doesn’t measure anything and her recipes are often too complicated and two, she’s the best cook I know and I’m scared of screwing anything up! However, these peppers are one of her easiest meals and they’re one of my go-to favorites!

When I make them, though, there’s one big difference: I swap the meat for beans. I wouldn’t say I’m vegan or vegetarian, however, I’m not the biggest fan of cooking raw meat so I don’t usually buy it at the grocery store. My mom’s also a chegan (a cheatin’ vegan … basically she’s 90 percent vegan, but will cheat with dairy every now and then), so I tend to experiment with vegan and vegetarian meals more often. Also, if you want to make this recipe vegan, just skip the cheese or find a dairy-free alternative!

Ingredients

• 2 large, green bell peppers
• 1 can of black or pinto beans
• 4 tablespoons of corn (I used frozen white corn)
• 4 tablespoons of rice (I use brown or cauliflower rice)
• 3/4 can of El Pato sauce (You can use less or more depending on how spicy you want the peppers and you can find the sauce at most grocery store chains).
• shredded pepper jack cheese (I probably used 2 tablespoons per pepper, but is there such a thing as too much cheese? Also, if you're looking to making this a vegan recipe, skip the cheese).
• salt to taste
• tortillas or tortilla chips (optional)

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Recipe

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
2. Cut each bell pepper in half and place open-side up in an oven-safe dish or Pyrex pan (I like using a Pyrex pan just in case anything falls out while cooking. Spoiler alert: something always falls out).
3. In a bowl, mix the beans, corn, rice and El Pato sauce. Add salt as needed.
4. Place an even amount of the mix in each half of the bell peppers.
5. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes depending on how soft you want the bell peppers and the size of the peppers.
6. Just before the peppers seem to be ready, sprinkle cheese on each and place them back in the oven for a couple more minutes.
7. After the cheese has melted, take out the peppers and behold your masterpiece! Enjoy with warmed tortillas, tortilla chips or as is!