After returning from India recently, I was delighted to see the grocery stores filled with locally-harvested, colorful winter squashes. This is a sure sign that fall has arrived.Jump to Recipe
During fall I love the idea of a fragrant vegetable bake as a welcome way to turn on the oven and partake in the joys of the season.
I have always enjoyed a simple spaghetti squash side dish baked with butter, salt, black pepper, and cheese. I learned it from my grandmother Anne Ell.
This enhanced spaghetti squash casserole becomes a satisfying vegetarian main course thanks to an exciting Mediterranean twist: a special topping featuring from potatoes, zucchini, onions, garlic, and fresh oregano.
A subtle hint of cumin and ghee in the bottom squash layer will excite your taste buds for sure, and if you like, a bubbly cheese topping, or a crunchy almond topping can be added.
For color, I suggest tomatoes, red bell peppers, and/or eggplant. These are nightshades, but they are also the vegetables of the season, and they do go very well together.
How to make
To make this squash casserole, you’ll steam the squash and potatoes first.
To prepare the squash for steaming, use a sharp knife to slice off the ends, then stand the squash upright and slice lengthwise down the center. Place cut-side-down in the steamer.
After steaming the squash, you can easily scoop the spaghetti flesh out of its shell. In this recipe, you will season the squash layer with salt, pepper, cumin powder, and a bit of ghee.
The squash becomes the bottom layer of the casserole.
The topping is comprised of finely chopped zucchini, the steamed potato, onions, garlic, and colorful tomatoes, red pepper, and/or eggplant.
You can mix and match your vegetable topping to your heart’s desire. So that topping gets placed on top of the squash layer in your baking tray.
It is then baked, covered, for about 25 minutes to fully soften the vegetables. A final 10-15 minutes uncovered will crisp it up, and allow you to melt on some cheese if you like.
Nightshade-free squash bake
For a nightshade-free version of this dish, instead of potatoes, use sweet potato, taro root, or green banana. Or simply leave this element out.
Instead of the tomatoes, red bell pepper, and/or eggplant, use carrots. The carrots will need to be pre-steamed in the first step, along with the squash and potatoes.
I feel that this combination of foods will satisfy all Ayurvedic body types, since there is something in there for everyone.
Dry Vata types with a fast metabolism can favor the cheese and/or nut topping for additional healthy fats to balance out the dryness of the baking method.
How to serve
Serve this squash casserole on the center of your vegetarian lunch or dinner plate. This is a main course.
Add a green salad on the side, and top both with some feta cheese and nuts. Add a drizzle of good olive oil and you’ve got a satisfying vegetarian meal.
If you wanted to go more elaborate, have some lentils or beans with it, such as whole mung dal, or simply some canned chickpeas.
Recipe for Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash Bake
Helpful Kitchen Tools:
- large saucepan with a steamer and lid OR Instant Pot with basket or trivet
- large mixing bowl (for the topping)
- medium mixing bowl (for the squash)
- 8x11 baking tray
- 1 medium spaghetti squash
- 2 medium potatoes, (sub with sweet potato or taro root)
for the vegetable topping
- 2 cups zucchini
- 2 cups tomatoes and/or eggplant and/or red bell pepper, (see notes for substitution)
- ½ cup onion
- 1 clove garlic, (sub with cilantro, parsley, basil, etc.)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- cheddar (grated), feta cheese (crumbled), or Parmesan
- almonds, roughly chopped
To steam the squash and potatoes
- Add 1 cup water to your saucepan or Instant Pot. Insert steamer basket or trivet.
- Slice off the stem and root ends from the spaghetti squash, then slice in half lengthwise. Place cut side down on the steamer basket.
- Slice potatoes in half lengthwise and place cut side down on the steamer basket.
- For the saucepan, bring water to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer/steam for 20 minutes. The squash is ready when a knife inserted into the squash comes out easily when lifted. For the Instant Pot, select “STEAM” and set the timer for 12 minutes. Manually release the steam after 5 minutes and open the lid.
For the vegetable topping
- Meanwhile, assemble the rest of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Chop zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant, and/or red pepper into small pieces of about ½-inch in diameter. Chop onions, garlic, and oregano even finer.
- After the potatoes are cool enough to handle, chop them into ½-inch pieces and add to the mixing bowl.
- Add salt, black pepper, and olive oil, and mix well. Taste a potato for salt. Add more salt if needed. If you didn’t use any tomatoes, add a bit of lemon juice. Set aside.
Finish the squash and assemble the bake
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- After the spaghetti squash is cool enough to handle, use a large serving spoon to scoop the seeds out and discard. Now scoop the spaghetti flesh out and place in your medium mixing bowl.
- Mix in ghee, salt, pepper, and cumin powder.
- Transfer to the baking tray and spread evenly over the bottom. Add the prepared vegetable topping and spread evenly. Cover with aluminum foil
- Place in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, then remove the covering. Continue to bake until the veggies are browning on top (about 15 minutes).
- Add optional cheese or nuts and bake a few minutes more until the cheese is bubbly and the nuts are golden.