As we ease into cooler weather and less daylight, it’s the warm and comforting dishes we crave. Warm and hearty pasta dishes become especially appealing in the fall, blanketed with parmesan measured in inches. By now, most of us are adept at cooking solid to excellent pasta at home. We know to salt the water, to save a bit of it to emulsify our easy weeknight pan sauce, and to never commit the sins of rinsing or overcooking our noodles. These are our go-to fall meals.
And yet, unless we’re skiing daily moguls, or training for a boxing match, that #carblife can begin to pile up. Mostly on our waistlines. Sure, it’s sweater-weather, but what if we could make one little change to our fall favorites that would at least mean it’s not bigger-sweater-weather?
That tweak, my friends, is spaghetti squash. Get it anywhere nowadays, from farmer’s market to TJ’s to any generic grocery chain. These squash look like pale yellow footballs, and they taste better than any dried pasta you can find. With less than a quarter of the calories of pasta, spaghetti squash is the fall vegetable you need to be cooking.
To start – this easy recipe for roasting spaghetti squash will get you started on technique. The rest becomes up to you!
1. Lasagna Style Spaghetti Squash
Would I like to eat pizza and lasagna every day? Yes, yes I would. But then I would be a TLC special, so instead I give you this recipe. Combining all the flavors of lasagna, including the burned crispy cheese edges, this will satisfy all those Italian cravings. Get the recipe here.
2. Spaghetti Squash with Mushrooms and Parmesan
The depth of flavor you get from sautéing mushrooms dovetails beautifully with the umami of parmesan. Of course, this could be any mushroom (buttons for a budget, morels if you’re rolling deep) and nearly any cheese, but the simplicity of ingredients makes this a great weeknight choice. Get the recipe here.
3. Spinach and Spaghetti Squash Dip
This recipe is a creamy, garlicky, delicious dip that can be dinner in front of Netflix or it can be made for a game-day crowd. To keep it lighter, use carrots or zucchini coins instead of chips. Get the recipe here.
4. Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Vegetables, Pine Nuts, and Olives
Mediterranean flavors fly to the forefront of this dish, and they’re explosive. The briny salinity of the olives tempers the richness of the pine nuts and adds texture to this dish. But the best part? All of the veggies get roasted on a single sheet pan, all together, so clean up is a breeze. A soft, Mediterranean breeze. Get the recipe here.
5. Spaghetti Squash Burrito Bowls
Chipotle craving? Turns out when you put the kibosh on the tortilla, things get kinda healthy. Mouth-wateringly healthy. With copious lashings of Tapatio. Get the recipe here.
6. Spaghetti Squash Cakes
Crispy pan-fried griddly hot cakes made of squash? Of course did. Slather with sour cream and chives, or sprinkle with some Old Bay for a mid-Atlantic flavor, but anyway you serve them will be an instant hit. Get the recipe here.
7. Thai Peanut Spaghetti Squash
Are you getting it now? The versatility! We’ve gone from Italian to your favorite take-out classics with this recipe. And it’s great hot or cold for lunch the next day. Get the recipe here.
8. Turkey Meatballs with Spaghetti Squash
It sounds rich and indulgent, yet it won’t put you down after eating it. Finally seeing the second half of Demolition Man may not be the best use of time, but at least you won’t be in a Soprano’s-level food-coma. Get our Turkey Meatballs with Spaghetti Squash recipe.
9. Buffalo Chicken Spaghetti Squash
This one…well…it’s not healthy. It does, however, boast cream cheese, blue cheese, shredded cheese and ranch dressing. So there’s that. Definitely that. Reader be warned. Get the recipe here.
10. Broccoli and Leek Spaghetti Squash
Aaaaand we’re back from that nap. A vegetable! Two, in fact! Wait, three! All mixed up together and packed with vitamins or something. This is what you eat after the gym without feeling like you’re depriving yourself. Get our Broccoli and Leek Spaghetti Squash recipe.
11. Spaghetti Squash Pizza Crust
Certainly the most innovative use for our beloved gourd on this list, pizza crust lends the crispy, flatbread-y texture to lighter dish. Well, depending on your toppings. If you go full on meatlovers with double cheese, you do so at your own risk. Get the recipe here.
12. Carbonara with Spaghetti Squash
Technically this list was supposed contain 11 recipes, but this one is my absolute favorite and on near-weekly rotation in my house, so I had to include it. Carbonara embodies comfort food – hot and cheesy with crispy pork bits! – but it won’t remain on your body with just the little spaghetti squash tweak. Trust me, you won’t miss the pasta on this one. Get the recipe here.
Header image: Roasted Spaghetti Squash from Chowhound
Vanessa W. Simmons is a former cook living in San Francisco, helping to run a food business. She's probably hungry, but if not she could eat.