Low-carb and low-calorie Mexican comfort food can be hard to find. Here, cooked and shredded spaghetti squash becomes the base of this nutritious entree loaded with spicy Mexican flavor.
I love all squash varieties (acorn, butternut, delicata, pumpkin and spaghetti) for different reasons, but spaghetti squash has always been a favorite of mine. The mild flavor of spaghetti squash pairs wonderfully with almost anything. And here we go south of the border!
Spaghetti squash is known for creating thin, translucent spaghetti-like strands that can easily be scraped out with a fork after baked. For busy weeknights, the spaghetti squash can be made in advance and refrigerated making this a meal that could be pulled together in less than 20 minutes.
I usually top roasted spaghetti squash with Italian flavors since it mimics pasta, but I wanted to try something different. For this recipe, the roasted golden squash makes the perfect bed for my new favorite plant-based “taco meat.”
The “taco meat” is made simply by sauteing cooked quinoa with chickpeas, veggies and spices. The combination of these ingredients and spices (chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder and black pepper) amazingly has a Mexican flavor and feel. I have used this vegan “taco-meat” before on salads for a Mexican salad bowl or on brown rice for a vegan burrito bowl. Here, I used it to top off spaghetti squash, and it just works. I think you all will love this healthy and satisfying plant-based meal. It is bursting with veggies and robust flavors. You won’t feel like you are missing any carbs with this colorful and exciting dish.
I would be remiss not to go into a bit more detail on the health benefits of spaghetti squash, an amazing canary colored vegetable. Like many other fruits and vegetables, spaghetti squash offers numerous benefits, including antioxidants and other important nutrients to keep your entire body healthy. Some of its key nutrients include vitamin A (to keep your eyes and skin healthy and protect against infections) and vitamin C (to help heal cuts and wounds and keep your teeth and gums healthy).
It also contains a good amount of fiber, which is important for overall heart health and helps to control blood sugar for people with diabetes. Fiber also aids in weight management by making you feel fuller faster. Spaghetti squash offers all of these benefits without a lot of calories.
In addition to incorporating lots of different types of vegetables into your diet, you should also aim for a variety of colors. If you haven’t tried a yellow vegetable recently, give spaghetti squash a try.
As always, this recipe is naturally gluten-free, vegan and allergy-friendly (no soy, nuts, dairy or eggs). It would make a perfect Meatless Monday dinner that is easy and as healthy as can be.
- Roasted Spaghetti Squash
- 1 large spaghetti squash
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Quinoa, Chickpea & Veggie "Taco Meat"
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced (about 2 cups when diced)
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- ½ zucchini, finely diced
- 1 cup white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 can garbanzo beans, drained, rinsed and dried
- 2 cups cooked white quinoa (see my post on How to Make Perfectly Cooked Quinoa)
- 2 teaspoons ground chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Cherry tomatoes, diced
- Avocado, diced
- Green onions, diced
- Cilantro, diced
- Prepare the Roasted Spaghetti Squash: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a medium sized baking sheet with non-bleach parchment paper. Cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and fibers with a spoon. Place on a baking sheet, cut side up and drizzle olive oil on the inside of the squash halves. Rub the oil in with your fingers or a grill brush. Lightly sprinkle each half with salt and pepper. Roast 45 minutes or until the skin gives easily under pressure and the inside is tender.
- Prepare the Chickpea, Quinoa & Veggie "Taco Meat": Meanwhile in a 12-in cast iron skilletover medium heat, heat the oil and saute the white onions with the salt for about 5 minutes or until translucent. Add the zucchini, red bell pepper and mushrooms and saute another 5 minutes. Add the garbanzo beans, cooked white quinoa and spices. Saute another 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
- To Assemble: Once the spaghetti squash has cooled enough to handle, use a fork to scrape the inside so the strands appear. Move the spaghetti noodles around to create a small bed in the center of each half for the "taco meat." Top each with the "taco meat" and garnishes. Serve immediately.
The spaghetti squash is roasted in this preparation; alternatively, it can be cooked in the microwave. To do so, use a sharp knife to puncture the whole squash about 12 times. Place on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on HIGH for 10 minutes. Cool completely, then cut in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and pulp. If the squash is not quite tender, microwave on high for 5 minutes.
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