This might not come as life-changing info, but spaghetti squash is an amazing substitute for pasta.
It has a texture and consistency that begs to be topped with your favorite pasta sauce. Will you miss the pasta that you swap out for spaghetti squash? In my opinion, no.
Will you miss the carb coma that comes from a huge plate of spaghetti? Again, I’m leaning in the “no” direction.
This shortcut bolognese with spaghetti squash is my favorite clash of healthy and convenient.
The secret weapon here is a good quality jarred marinara sauce. It doesn’t have to be super fancy. What I look for is a reasonably short list of ingredients and specifically, a jar without:
- added sugar, or
- processed oils like soybean or canola
(those ingredients can cause inflammation so I try to avoid them).
I look for jarred marinara made with olive oil, but sometimes I will get a fat-free sauce and then add my own healthy fats in at home.
So you’ve probably figured out that a good jarred marinara is where the shortcut happens. You just pop the top and that step is settled.
But the second, less obvious secret to this shortcut is having spaghetti squash already cooked and ready to go. You can do that by roasting a spaghetti squash (or 2) at the beginning of the week, or even microwaving the squash instead of roasting.
A NOTE ON SQUASH NOODLES: I usually cut my squash in half lengthwise, but you can get longer, more “spaghetti like” strands if you cut it short ways.
Choice is yours.
Because we love veggies—the way they fill us up, supply us with nutrients, and look pretty on our plates—we’re going to add some of those into our shortcut bolognese sauce.
I like to use garlic, zucchini, and carrots, but you can also add onions, mushrooms, spinach, kale, etc. Go veggie wild.
The veggies also serve to stretch your high quality meat a little bit further.
I usually use grass-fed beef for bolognese (there’s a few packs frozen in my chest freezer at any given time). But this time I thought I’d mix it up and go with some grass-fed ground bison from US Wellness Meats.
If you’ve never tried bison, you should! It has a mild flavor that’s not at all gamey. It’s pretty low in fat, so I like to brown it up with bacon grease that I collect and keep in a container in the fridge.
So, steps for shortcut bolognese are as follows:
- Brown your beef. (if you’re using grass-fed, you won’t have to drain it) Transfer to another dish for a quick second and…
- Saute up your veg. Add the beef back to the pan and…
- Stir in your time-saving jar of marinara.
Then you just let everyone mix and mingle for about 5 minutes.
And you proudly scoop your shortcut bolognese over nature’s simplest pasta substitute.
Oh spaghetti squash, how much do we love you?
Top it with some good quality grated parm (if that’s an option for you).
Maybe sprinkle with a few crushed red pepper flakes…
And twirl. Like you mean it!
This is pasta night that loves you back.
So enjoy every bite knowing that you’re giving your body some seriously wholesome fuel.
And bask in knowing that this delicious weeknight dinner came together in no time at all.
Seriously, what will you do with all that extra time??
- 2 small spaghetti squash or 1 large
- 1 lb ground bison or grass fed beef*
- Jarred marinara sauce (I usually use half the jar and freeze the rest for another time)
- 1-2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 medium zucchini, chopped
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
- Oil for browning meat (I used bacon grease)
- Cut the spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Place face down in a glass baking dish with a little bit of water and roast in a 400 degree oven for 30-45 minutes, until center of spaghetti squash is tender.
- While spaghetti squash roasts, heat a pan over medium high heat and add a little bit of oil and the meat. Break the meat up with a spatula and cook until it is browned (4-5 minutes). Transfer to a bowl and reserve.
- Add the pan back to the heat and add a little bit more oil. Saute the garlic for 1-2 minutes, and then add carrots and zucchini, sauteing for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add the meat back to the pan with the veggies and add the marinara. Stir to combine, reduce to medium low heat and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Divide spaghetti squash between plates and serve with marina and optional parmesan.
You can stretch your meat by using half a pound and adding more veggies--mushrooms are great here
Don't let me do all the talking! Let me know what you think in the comments.