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Creating this Pesto Spaghetti Squash
Pesto Spaghetti Squash has been on repeat in my house this week.
I remember making spaghetti squash at my moms house when the low carb lifestyle was trending.
And even now in 2020, low carb & keto is still a popular trend. As a Dietitian, I do not favor one particular diet over the other.
My goal is to help teach you how to eat in a healthful way and get all the nutrition you need no matter what trend or diet you have interest in.
I believe the best diet is to have balance and moderation and to not fear foods.
This Pesto Spaghetti Squash has minimal ingredients and can be easily whipped up in an hour.
I hope you love this dish. Actually, I know you will! It’s
- Easy to make
- Perfect for a weeknight dinner
- Low carb
- Can easily be made vegan by omitting the chicken sausage
- Paleo, Whole30, gluten free, grain free, dairy free and sugar free!
Health Benefits of Spaghetti Squash
A one-cup serving of spaghetti squash has ~7-10 grams of carbohydrates as compared to ~45 grams in one cup of pasta or rice!!
One cup has only ~42 calories and offers important health benefits. This is perfect for people who may be watching their carbohydrate intake, such as diabetics.
Spaghetti squash provides the body with essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, B-vitamins, and manganese.
Pesto Spaghetti Squash Ingredients
For the Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti Squash: I use a ~2-3 pound spaghetti squash for this recipe. It will make enough to serve 4 people, or to have leftovers for the next day.
Seasonings: Olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder are used to season the spaghetti squash noodles after the spaghetti squash cooks.
Parmesan cheese (optional): I like to serve this meal with freshly grated Parmesan on top.
Cherry tomatoes: Give this pesto spaghetti squash a pop of color, Vitamin C and lycopene by adding tomatoes to it.
Chicken Sausage: I like the Italian Chicken Sausage mixed into this meal for a boost of protein and to make it more hearty. (12 oz. package or 4 links)
White onion: This is added to the sausage when heating on the frying pan.
For the Avocado Pesto
I have the full recipe for my avocado pesto on this blog post and show how you can serve the pesto with angel hair pasta. But pesto is such a versatile sauce and is delicious with spaghetti squash too!
Avocado: Avocado adds a creamy texture to pesto along with healthy fats making this pesto a satisfying and healthy sauce.
Extra virgin olive oil: I always try to use a tasty, higher quality olive oil when making my homemade pesto. Pour your olive oil in a dish and take a sip. If you feel like it’s delicious on it’s own, it’s good to add to your pesto!
Pro tip: sure to add the olive oil in at the end, since blending olive oil at high speeds in the food processor can sometimes give it bitter flavors.
Fresh Basil: Chop up the basil leaves prior to placing in the food processor so it doesn’t bruise the basil leaves.
Walnut halves: Traditional pesto calls for pine nuts, but those can be expensive. Since nuts are mild in flavor (they mostly add richness), you can use whatever you have on hand.
Pistachios, almonds and or pecans all make great substitutions. Also be sure to chop up the nuts because when added in whole, they can release too much oil and make your pesto pasty and thick.
Lemon juice: I love adding in lemon to my pesto because it brightens up the flavor and keeps the pesto bright green much longer in the fridge.
Hemp seeds: I love using hemp seeds in pesto because it adds in protein and you really can’t even taste it. It tastes like any other pesto but with a nutritionally bonus!
Salt: Enhances the flavors in the pesto.
How to Make Pesto Spaghetti Squash
First you will cook the spaghetti squash. See below on my favorite ways to cook it. Plus, I wrote a whole blog post on how to make spaghetti squash!
While the spaghetti squash is cooking you can make the pesto. In a food processor or powerful blender, mix all of the ingredients for the avocado pesto together until smooth. Adjust olive oil and seasonings to your preference.
In a frying pan over medium heat, add in 1 Tbsp. olive oil, 1/2 white onion diced and sausage. Cook this for about 5-7 minutes or until onions are soft and sausage is hot.
In a large bowl, combine the noodles from the cooked spaghetti squash with the pesto and chicken sausage mixture. Mix well.
Serve up in bowls garnished with diced tomatoes and Parmesan or serve in the spaghetti squash boats for fun!
How Long to Cook Spaghetti Squash in the Oven
Depending on the size of the spaghetti squash, it can take 40-50 minutes to cook. A 2 pound usually takes 35-45 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 400° F.
- Using a sharp knife, cut about 1 inch off of the top and bottom of the spaghetti squash.
- Then carefully cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise.
- Scoop out the seeds, just like you would a pumpkin! Save seeds to cook and eat or discard.
- Spread about 1 tsp. olive oil on each half and then sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder.
- Place cut side up (flesh side facing down) on a baking sheet sprayed with non stick cooking spray and lined with foil.
- Bake for about 35-45 minutes or until you can easily poke a fork through the skin of the spaghetti squash.
- Remove from oven and flip the squash over and you will be able to take a fork to the squash and create your noodles!
How to Microwave Spaghetti Squash
Poke the squash in a few places using the tines of a fork: This creates vents to allow steam to escape during the initial cooking of the squash.
Then carefully cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds, simply flip it upside down in a baking dish, fill it with about an inch of water, and microwave for 5 minutes on high. Check squash and then cook again for another 2-5 minutes or until soft.
How to cook a spaghetti squash in the Instant Pot (based on a 2 pound spaghetti squash):
Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds.
Place the trivet down on the bottom if it isn’t already inside and then add 1 cup of water.
Arrange the squash in the Instant Pot.
Close the lid and make sure the Instant Pot is set on sealing and not venting!
Set to manual, high-pressure for 9 minutes.
When the timer goes off, use the quick release method by switching the valve from sealing to venting carefully with a towel so you do not burn your hand!
Wait about 2-3 minutes for the steam and pressure to dissipate.
Open the lid and test the squash. Use the tines of a fork to separate the cooked squash. Take a bite to test that it’s done. (I like my squash tender but not mushy). You can always cook for another 1-2 minutes on high pressure if needed if you have a larger squash.
How Long is Spaghetti Squash Good For?
Eat the cooked spaghetti squash noodles after 3-5 days from cooking.
Can You Freeze Spaghetti Squash?
Yes! You can freeze spaghetti squash. You can store uncut spaghetti squash at room temperature (like on your counter) or in a cool dark, place for up to 3 weeks! The hard skin of the winter squash protects the flesh and allows it to be stored longer than summer squash.
How to freeze spaghetti squash:
Cook the squash as you normally would and then remove the excess water: Place the spaghetti squash noodles in a colander or strainer and set the colander on top of a large bowl. Cover and store it in your fridge overnight to let the excess water drain from the noodles. (Prevents soggy noodles!)
Then in the morning, place the noodles in a freezer safe bag and freeze to use for meals throughout the week.
Tips for Making Pesto Spaghetti Squash
Cook the spaghetti squash and make the pesto in advance so all you have to do is heat the sausage.
If you are vegetarian or vegan, omit the chicken sausage or replace with tofu!
Meal prep this on Sunday to have for lunches during the week. This can easily make 4-5 lunches!
More Healthy Spaghetti Squash Recipes
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For the spaghetti Squash
- 1 (2-3lb) spaghetti squash, cooked
- 2 Tbsp. Olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 12 oz. chicken sausage links, sliced and cut into half moons
- 1/2 white onion (~1/2 cup), diced
- 1/2 cup cherry tomato, diced (for garnish)
- Parmesan cheese (optional for garnish)
Last step! If you make this, please leave a review and rating letting us know how you liked this recipe! This helps our business thrive & continue providing free recipes.
- First you will cook the spaghetti squash. I wrote a whole blog post on how to make spaghetti squash! (My favorite way is in the oven or Instant Pot, see notes).
- While the spaghetti squash is cooking you can make the pesto. In a food processor or powerful blender, mix all of the ingredients for the avocado pesto together until smooth. Adjust olive oil and seasonings to your preference.
- In a frying pan over medium heat, add 1 Tbsp. olive oil, white onion and the sausage. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until the sausage is cooked and onion is soft.
- In a large bowl, combine the squash noodles with the pesto and chicken sausage. Mix well.
- Serve up in bowls garnished with diced tomatoes and Parmesan or serve in the spaghetti squash boats for fun!