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Spaghetti Squash with Italian Bell Pepper & Broccoli – Paleo and Vegetarian!

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I think a lot of people misunderstand the Paleo “diet.” It has a reputation as being all bacon and burgers, but that really isn’t the case. Sensible Paleo food builds its foundation on vegetables, and most of the Paleo cookbooks I’ve read are quick to point out that you really should eat a lot of vegetables and healthy eating is about more than bacon bowls filled with fried eggs. (Just in case you hadn’t figured that one out on your own!)

A lot of Paleo recipes seem like they really only taste good to people who live a mostly-Paleo lifestyle, but I think this one is an exception. It’s super delicious! In fact, I think it’s the tastiest spaghetti squash I’ve ever eaten. It’s chock-full of vegetables, vegetarian-friendly, and not that difficult to make. Cooking the spaghetti squash in the oven does take 30-45 minutes, but you can speed things up if you need to by nuking it in the microwave. Either way, this spaghetti squash with Italian bell peppers and broccoli is simple to make. Give it a try – I know you’ll be glad you did!

Spaghetti Squash with Italian Bell Pepper & Broccoli - Paleo and Vegetarian!

I was pretty frustrated the day I decided to make this dish for photographs. There was fantastic lighting where I usually photograph when I started the prep process, but 45 minutes later there was a depressing, dark downpour that made all my finished product pictures pretty blah. I’m sorry, y’all – I’ll try to make it again on a sunnier day so you can see how pretty this spaghetti squash decked out with bell peppers and broccoli really is!

At least I got some nice pictures of the ingredients. Just look at all those tasty veggies!

lots of veggiesIf you’ve never cooked spaghetti squash before, it can be a little intimidating. Don’t panic! Put a roasting pan on the middle shelf of your oven and preheat it to 400º and then take it in little steps. Cutting the stem end off will be very helpful.

cut end of spaghetti squash

Stand the squash on end, resting on the newly-cut, flat surface, and cut it in half. This is a pretty tough job, particularly with a large squash! Make sure to use your largest knife.

cut spaghetti squash

Once it’s split open, the spaghetti squash will probably smell a little like a pumpkin. Just like at Halloween, scoop out those seeds and stringy bits.

Once the squash is cleaned out, brush about a tablespoon (per half) of olive oil on the rim around each squash, then sprinkle on about 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a few cranks of freshly ground black pepper. Carefully remove the pre-heated roasting pan from your oven and pop the two squash halves in it, face down. Return the pan to the oven and cook until you can easily stick a fork in the upward-facing “shell” side of the squash, about 30-45 minutes.

roasted squash

Once the squash is almost finished roasting, you can start prepping those other veggies! Cut your broccoli into florets and slice/chop the bell peppers. I like to slice up 1/4″  rings on my mandolin slicer and then cut each ring into quarters, but you can make smaller pieces if that’s what you like.

broccoli and bell peppers

Then you basically just sauté up the broccoli and peppers with some delicious Italian spices, toss in the roasted spaghetti squash strands, and dig in! Ready to see all the details?

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Spaghetti Squash with Italian Bell Pepper & Broccoli - Paleo and Vegetarian!
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Serves: 2-4
 
Ingredients
For the squash
  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 2 tablespoons (or to taste) olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper (to taste)
For the veggies
  • 1 - 1.5 pounds of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 2 bell peppers - red, yellow, or orange, sliced or chunked
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more, if you like it hot!)
Instructions
  1. Place a roasting pan on the middle rack of your oven and preheat to 400º Fahrenheit.
  2. Cut your spaghetti squash in half and scrape out the seeds.
  3. Coat the exposed edge of each spaghetti squash half with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and a little black pepper.
  4. Roast the spaghetti squash halves, face down, on the preheated pan until you can easily stick a fork through the back of each piece, about 30-45 minutes.
  5. Remove the squash from the oven and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes.
  6. Right before the squash is ready to come out of the oven, preheat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet with a fitting lid or a dutch oven.
  7. Combine the water, garlic, oregano, parsley, thyme, salt, and red pepper in a small bowl.
  8. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, add the broccoli and allow it to cook without moving until it browns slightly, about 2-3 minutes.
  9. Stir the broccoli and then add in the bell peppers.
  10. Add the water mixture to the vegetables, toss to combine, cover, and reduce heat to medium low. Cook for about two minutes, until vegetables are slightly tender but still crisp and brightly-colored.
  11. Uncover the veggies and stir, then allow them to cook for about two minutes more, or until you're satisfied with their tender:crisp ratio.
  12. Remove the veggies from the heat. Using a a fork (and probably a pair of tongs to hold the hot squash in place!), shred the "spaghetti" fibers out of the squash shells and add them to the vegetable mixture.
  13. Toss to combine everything and serve.

I know that is a lot of steps, but none of them are very difficult. Well, okay, maybe cutting the squash, but nothing else is hard! It’s best served fresh and hot. You can keep leftovers, but the vegetables tend to get a bit soggy when they’re reheated. You probably won’t have any leftovers, though. =)

Paleo Broccoli Pepper Spaghetti Squash

If you don’t dig a hole through the squash shells or poke too many fork holes in them, you can serve up your “pasta” dish in pretty spaghetti squash shell boats. If the shells aren’t salvageable, just reach for a bowl. =)

Have you ever tried spaghetti squash? What’s your favorite way to serve it?

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{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Paige | Little Nostalgia January 28, 2015, 03:08

    I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a spaghetti squash! I definitely know I’ve never cooked one (haha) but have I actually tried it? Hmmm… Either way, this looks so good. 🙂

    • Natashalh January 28, 2015, 07:23

      If it’s undercooked, it definitely has a lightly squash-y taste, but if it’s all the way cooked and has something on it, it really doesn’t taste like a big bowl of squash. It’s pretty cool, really!

  • Marieken January 28, 2015, 01:03

    I love all of these ingredients, but never had them all together. Must be very tasty!

    • Natashalh January 28, 2015, 07:21

      So delicious! Even the leftovers were good, though not quite as crisp.

  • Fred January 27, 2015, 16:42

    The cutting problem is gone if using the nuclear option. Somewhere around eight minutes for a medium sized squash (whole) and then it will cut open very easily. The seeds and pith are scooped out, the flesh fluffed with a fork and if not quite done you can nuke it for a few seconds more. And personally I think I would toss (paleo) caution to the winds and give it a dose of freshly grated Italian cheese!

    • Natashalh January 27, 2015, 17:06

      It’s also pretty good with feta!
      I’ve spent a lot of time without a microwave, and I really like roasting the quash in the oven because then you can flip it over for a couple minutes of broiling and get some really nice bits. With or without cheese, though, it is pretty tasty!

  • Edi January 27, 2015, 07:50

    I keep telling myself to grab one of these at the store and give it a try. I love all the colorful veggies in here. And I could toss in some chicken too…too keep the man happy 🙂

    • Natashalh January 27, 2015, 09:23

      Definitely! I think cooking up pieces of chicken in the same spice mixture would be pretty tasty. I haven’t actually tried spaghetti squash on my man – I usually eat it when he’s away because he doesn’t even like noodles to begin with. One day I’ll trick him in to it though. =)

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