Roasted Spaghetti Squash + Pesto Dinner (Vegan)
I know it’s a bold statement, but this might just be the best roasted spaghetti squash dinner recipe you ever make! It’s a complete, vegan sheet pan dinner with chickpeas, red peppers and pesto that checks all the boxes: filling, flavourful, only 5 ingredients and less than 15 minutes of hands-on time!
Pumpkin gets all the press…but if you ask me, squash is the true superhero of cool weather cooking. You can whip up a creamy kabocha squash curry on a chilly night and feel RENEWED. Or rip open a bag of frozen butternut squash to add an extra layer of comfort to a quick black bean tostada, sans chopping.
But of all the different types of squash out there, I don’t know any that can anchor a dinner the way roasted spaghetti squash can.
I remember my mom making a lot of spaghetti squash when I was a kid…and I don’t remember why we stopped? Did it go out of style? Was it ever in style? Or, did I just decide I “didn’t like it” one day like when my kids tell me they hate mushrooms when they used to eat them by the bucketload. The joys of parenthood!
Anyhoo, it only took me like 30 years to get back to the idea that roasted spaghetti squash is a perfectly cozy and comforting meal. But what to serve it with?
A tomato-based pasta sauce is always delicious but I wanted something a little different when I was writing the plant-based recipes for Good For Your Gut, so I created a quick saute of red peppers and chickpeas and then topped the whole shebang with pesto. SO GOOD…and the dietitian in me was giddy because it’s also a complete vegan dinner with plenty of colour, fibre and plant-based protein so you feel full and satisfied.
But since the book came out, I was thinking to myself, “couldn’t you just put it all together and make it a sheet pan meal?”. Turns out, yes you can…and you now have one less dish to clean making this perhaps the ultimate easy, hands-off weeknight meal that tastes like more than the sum of its parts.
Gather your ingredients for this yummy roasted spaghetti squash dinner
I’ve got to tell you…there is magic afoot in this recipe. It is sweet, salty, a bit herbaceous and the squash even has a bit of a creamy texture mixed with the pesto. All this…and it’s just 4 core ingredients plus some pantry items. You don’t need a lot in the cupboard to make a truly delicious and nourishing vegan meal!
- Spaghetti Squash: I love using smaller squash for this so everyone can have their own half but if you have a larger squash, just cut it into 4 pieces. I find about 3 lbs (1350g) of squash serves 4 happily.
- Chickpeas: chickpeas are so incredibly nutrient-dense: they’re a wonderful source of gut-boosting fibre as well as plant-based protein and minerals like iron. At the store, I always buy no-salt-added canned chickpeas. Be sure to rinse and drain them well! This reduces the FODMAPs that make you, ahem, gassy.
- Red peppers: have such a gorgeous sweetness when roasted and add some colour to this dish too. You can choose green, yellow or orange peppers if that’s what you have!
- Pesto: buy your favourite vegan pesto – this is meant to be an easy dinner! – of course, if you do have an extra ten while the squash is roasting, it is pretty easy to make your own vegan pesto.
- Extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper: you know…the usual stuff. Extra virgin olive oil is my favourite cooking oil, hands down. I’m Portuguese, that stuff is practically running through my veins, ha!
How to roast spaghetti squash in the oven…and turn it into dinner!
It doesn’t get much easier than this: just roast the squash, chickpeas and pepper on the same sheet pan and then top with store-bought pesto. The hardest part of roasting spaghetti squash? Cutting it open of course. Here’s how to do it.
Step One: Prep the squash. Hold the squash firmly with one hand and a sharp knife in the other. Inserting the tip of the knife into the centre of the squash and then pull it through the squash, away from your other hand. Repeat on the other side…it’s okay if the halves aren’t perfect! Then scrape out the innards with a spoon. Waste less tip: separate the seeds and roast them!
Step Two: Assemble the sheet pan by brushing the spaghetti squash with oil, seasoning with salt and pepper and placing the halves cut side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Add the peppers and chickpeas and toss with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Then bake until the squash is tender, about 40-60 minutes depending on the size of the squash! You’ll know it’s done when the outside of the squash yields to gentle pressure.
Step Three: Serve the squash topped with chickpeas and peppers and a generous drizzle of pesto.
How to make this spaghetti squash dinner low FODMAP
The original recipe in Good For Your Gut was designed to be low FODMAP, so it’s super easy but/and/also, the low FODMAP guidelines have changed since the book came out (it happens SO fast!) so here is what to do:
- limit your chickpeas to ¼ cup per serve
- keep your squash serving to ½ pound (about 1 ½ cups)
- Keep your red pepper to ⅓ cup OR stick to green peppers, which you can eat ⅓ of a pepper.
- Buy a garlic-free pesto or make your own by omitting the garlic!
Desiree’s Tips, Tricks and Substitutions
- Hate mushy spaghetti squash? DON’T OVERCOOK IT! If you like your squash more al dente, err on the side of undercooking. Test it at 30 minutes. The outside should yield a bit to pressure and when you turn it over, the strands will form! For this dish, I don’t mind it a little squishier as I find it makes for a cozy texture so I usually cook 45-55 minutes.
- Leftovers keep super well: I typically scrape the remaining spaghetti squash and store it separately from the chickpeas and peppers. To reheat, add a splash of olive oil and a splash of water to a nonstick skillet and heat the squash, peppers and chickpeas over medium until steaming.
- This is great served with chile flakes for a bit of extra heat and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast in lieu or parmesan….or if you have some of my almond parmesan in the fridge, that is awesome too!
- If you want to make your own pesto, branch out from basil with my cilantro pesto or my broccoli pesto! Got leftover pesto? Don’t let it go to waste! Spread it on sandwiches, thin it out with a bit of water or oil and use as a dressing for grain bowls or salads or freeze into cubes for longer-term storage.
- Got another squash on hand? You could totally do this with acorn squash or honey nut squash and it would be DELICIOUS.
More cozy vegan recipes with pumpkin and squash
- Vegan Sausage-stuffed Acorn Squash
- Cumin-roasted Acorn Squash with Hemp Chile Crumble
- Winter Panzanella Salad with Kale and Roasted Squash
- Pumpkin Miso Soup
- Spiced Pumpkin Tart with Oat Crust
Roasted spaghetti squash + pesto dinner (vegan)
- 2 small spaghetti squash, or one large, about 3 lbs (1350g)
- 2 14 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 2 red peppers, sliced into ½ inch (1 cm) slices
- 1 cup vegan pesto, storebought or homemade!
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- salt, to taste
- freshly cracked pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400˚F (200˚C) and prepare a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, and scoop out seeds. If you have one large squash, you can cut each half in half again so you have 4 pieces. Rub cut side of squash with 2 tbsp (30 mL) olive oil, salt and pepper and place cut side down on parchment.
- Add the peppers and chickpeas to the baking sheet and toss with remaining olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Then bake until the squash is tender, about 40-60 minutes depending on the size of the squash. You’ll know it’s done when the outside of the squash yields slightly to gentle pressure. If you've got smaller squash and prefer al dente strands, check after 30 minutes!
- Divide the chickpeas and peppers amongst the squash and serve with pesto.