Spaghetti Squash with Butter and Cheese and Spicy Marinara with Saffron

This flavorful meal tastes hearty but this “spaghetti” is a light and healthy dish. The sauce freezes well and can be used over pasta, too.


  • 2 large spaghetti squash
  • 1 cup chicken stock or water
  • A generous pinch of saffron (about 24 threads)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 medium onion, very finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped or grated
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 1 red hot cherry pepper or Fresno chili pepper, sliced with seeds for extra-spicy sauce or seeded and finely chopped for milder heat level
  • 1 can San Marzano tomatoes (28-32 ounces)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (1/3 palmful)
  • A handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • A handful of basil leaves, torn
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus some to pass at table


Pre-heat the oven to 425°F.

Split the squash lengthwise and place them cut-side down on a baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes-1 hour, until the squash flesh is very tender.

Meanwhile, heat the stock or water in a small pot with the saffron threads to bloom the saffron and infuse the liquid with flavor.

While the squash roasts, heat the EVOO, a couple of turns of the pan, in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, garlic and cherry pepper or chili pepper and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 8-10 minutes, then add the saffron stock and tomatoes to the pan. Crush the tomatoes with a potato masher or spoon. Add the oregano, parsley and basil and simmer to thicken, 20-30 minutes, over medium-low heat.

When the squash is done, melt the butter in a small pot. Flip the squash over and shred the squash into spaghetti-like strands with a fork, leaving the flesh in the squash shells. Dress evenly with the melted butter, cheese, salt and pepper.

Top each half-squash with sauce and more cheese and serve.

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