Spaghetti Squash Grain Bowls

Towards the end of the summer, I decided to join a couple of friends at what would be our first in-person lunch since the pandemic began. We agreed on Geronimo, a place I had never been to before, that had ample outdoor seating and an authentic Southwestern menu. By the look of the now empty bar, I imagined that this place was probably packed before the pandemic. I could definitely see myself relaxing with a drink at the bar or very happily parked in front of one of the fireplaces, yacking my head off and having a good time.

My friend ordered the Spaghetti Squash Burrito Bowl. When her order came, I was instantaneously impressed by the genius of this edible bowl. When she asked me if I wanted a taste, I declined, mainly because the wheels in my head started spinning with fun thoughts of creating a spaghetti squash bowl of my own and I didn’t want to be influenced by these particular flavors. I thought about it for a while before attempting to develop a recipe. I wanted the bowl to be very flexible, especially during this time when we’re all trying to use up whatever we have to avoid food waste while still trying to eat delicious and healthy. I figured that it would be reasonable to require a few must-have ingredients to define the bowl; the spaghetti squash, of course, a can of favorite beans, and cheese.

To date, I’ve tested over twelve versions using friends and family as tasters. I was convinced that the bowl would be consistently delicious every time if a few staple ingredients were unchanged, and all the others varied. I’m happy to say that I was right! What I came up with is essentially a ‘create your own’ grain bowl, allowing you to mix and match whatever you have on hand and ultimately end up with a fabulous brunch, lunch, or dinner.

Here’s my recipe.

Spaghetti Squash Grain Bowls

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • One large spaghetti squash, about 4 lb.
  • One-15 oz. can favorite beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
  • 2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • ¼ tsp. dried oregano
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. white miso, at room temperature
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup cooked grain of choice, such as quinoa or brown rice
  • Select about 1/4 cup of up to three fillings from the following suggested list (alternatively, you can add any leftover, freshly cooked, or frozen vegetable of choice. Don’t feel restrained by this list because the filling possibilities are endless): Cooked/roasted corn, roasted diced  butternut squash, roasted diced bell pepper (jarred works, too), roasted diced eggplant, roasted sliced or diced zucchini, cooked diced green beans, cooked chopped broccoli, cooked chopped spinach, sliced onion
  • 1 cup coarsely grated Oaxaca or Mozzarella cheese, more to taste
  • Cooking spray

Directions

Pierce the spaghetti squash all over with a paring knife. Place in a microwave-safe dish with 1/3 cup water and cook until fork-tender turning half-way through cooking, about 20 minutes. Alternatively, place the spaghetti squash in an oven-proof baking dish with 1/3 cup water and bake at 350°F until fork-tender turning half-way through cooking, about 30 minutes (cooking time will vary based on the size of your squash.

When the squash is cool to the touch, slice in half lengthwise, scrape out, and discard the seeds. Slice a thin piece of squash from the bottom of each half to stabilize the squash.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350°F.

Combine the beans with the olive oil, vinegar, oregano, ½ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. black pepper. Set aside. Combine the butter and miso with a silicone spatula until well mixed. Set aside.

Put the squash, cut side up, in a large oven-proof baking dish. Lightly salt and pepper the inside of the squash. Divide the miso butter between the wells of each squash half, breaking it up with your fingers to distribute pieces evenly along the length of the squash. Divide the grain between the squash bowls, pressing it down firmly. Divide the ingredients of choice between the bowls, pressing each down firmly before adding the next. Top each squash with ½ cup marinated beans.

Divide the cheese between the bowls, mound it on top of the fillings, and press it down lightly.

Spray one side of a large piece of foil with cooking spray. Lightly cover the squash with the sprayed foil. Bake until the filling is warmed through, about 30 minutes. Remove the foil, turn the oven to broil, and continue to cook until the cheese is light golden and bubbly, 1 to 3 minutes more.

Transfer the grain bowls to plates and serve.

Make-ahead notes:

  • You can cook the spaghetti squash two days in advance if desired. Let cool completely, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until ready to use.
  • You can assemble the grain bowl one day in advance but leave the cheese off until just before baking.

Let me know if you have any questions. As always, I’m happy to answer them!

––Chef Diana 

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