baked pasta with spaghetti squash

BAKED ZITI. I USED TO BABYSIT TWINS IN NEW YORK who ate two things for dinner: baked ziti and chicken nuggets, end of list. So I know kids love the stuff. The only thing is, plain pasta not that great for you.

So I tried something.

We combined spaghetti squash with whole wheat penne pasta, then threw in the usual suspects. It was healthy, gooey and I’ll tell you what, delicious.

Here’s how you can make it too. And if you haven’t cooked with spaghetti squash a lot, The Kitchn has a great 101 on the good stuff here.

baked pasta with spaghetti squash
  • 2 cups spaghetti squash pulp (about ½ of a large squash); see instructions below
  • ½ box whole wheat penne
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 3 cups spaghetti sauce, or 1 jar of your favorite kind
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil or 2 teaspoons fresh, chopped
  • 1 /2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  1. Prepare the spaghetti squash: Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the squash in half, lengthwise (from the longest end to end). Use a sturdy spoon to scoop out the seeds. Place squash halves cut side down on a baking sheet and add about ¼ cup water. Cook 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of your squash. Let cool enough to handle and use a fork to fluff out the squash.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta. Add half a box of penne to a large pot of boiling water, add salt and cook for 5 minutes. Drain. Return pasta to pot then add spaghetti sauce, squash, herbs and mozzarella then stir.
  3. Now, assemble and bake. Lower the oven to 350. Butter a large casserole pan. Add pasta and sauce mixture, then drop in ricotta by the large spoonful, distributing throughout the pan. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top and drizzle oil over it. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for 35 minutes until gold and bubbly.
  4. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving. The pasta will cool and firm up a bit too.

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  1. Sarah says

    Could you add a green veggie to this like zucchini or spinach to make it a one pot meal? Or would you suggest serving the green vegetable separately?

    • charityc says

      Yes, absolutely Sarah! You could put any veggies in there to make a one-pot meal. Even though this is a baked pasta dish with red sauce, this is related: I often use carrots in mac & cheese or cauliflower and there’s an upcoming mac & cheese recipe with broccoli and spinach added too. I LOVE throwing veggies into anything I can, so by all means, add it. One thing, the veggies will add a lot of moisture, especially zucchini and spinach so you may need to adjust your cooking time to absorb the water. Or you could wring out the veggies ahead of time (use a plain paper towel or a thin, clean kitchen towel), fill it up with the zucchini or spinach and twist over the sink until the water starts to drip out. (It’ll be green!) Thanks for the idea and please let us know how it turns out.

      • Sarah says

        Thank you for the reply! I made this last night with 1/2 a bag of frozen spinach, defrosted under hot water and then wrung out as you suggested with a paper towel. It turned out wonderfully and my 18 month loved it, as did my husband and I :) The spaghetti squash was a great combo with the pasta!

  2. Allison Snyder says

    This is a completely delicious recipe – so simple and such a great way to use spaghetti squash, which my hubby and I have always found to be an intriguing vegetable but how to use it in a cool, yummy way? It’s actually pretty blah on its own.This recipe is the answer to our question. I will try it next time adding the green veggies as suggested above. My fave part of this recipe, besides the addition of the squash, is the olive oil drizzle over the top with the salt and pepper and parmesan cheese. Slightly crunchy and beautifully browned up…So simple but SO GOOD!….Highly recommend this recipe and can’t wait to try others on the site.

    • charityc says

      Ah, thanks so much, Allison! We liked that one too. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law have become spaghetti squash converts as well! Here’s to more tasty dishes all summer long…



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