Spaghetti Squash with Ground Beef, Kale and Mushroom Bolognese

My friend Jamie is a vegetarian. She has made spaghetti squash for years, including countless times for me. While I’ve always enjoyed it, I had a big misconception about it; I thought that it was a ton of work to make and that I'd never want to try it myself. Well, it turns out that I was completely wrong! I recently discovered how simple and easy – and delicious! – it is to make. This new knowledge has been a game changer.

spaghetti-squash-ground-beef-kale-mushroom-bolognese
Theo eating another variation of spaghetti squash with Bolognese, made only with ground beef and some light tomato sauce

Theo eating another variation of spaghetti squash with Bolognese, made only with ground beef and some light tomato sauce

Spaghetti squash is like nature’s form of zoodles (zucchini noodles)! It’s a highly nutritious vegetable-based pasta replacement. It is particularly great for babies and kids because it is easy to hold and fun to eat and can serve as a fantastic base for a variety of dishes and food combinations.

This is a variation of spaghetti squash that I made in a last-minute attempt to clean out the fridge, or a kitchen sink recipe. It was amazingly simple and delicious! Theo and I both ate it for dinner and loved it. He had the best time grabbing fistfuls of squash and Bolognese and slurping them into his mouth. Undeniably, it was one of the messiest meals he’s had, but also the most fun. I hope your little ones enjoy it as much as Theo did!

6+ months - including kids and adults!
Serves 4
Prep Time: Spaghetti Squash: 3-5 minutes; Bolognese: 3-5 minutes
Cook Time: Spaghetti Squash: 50-55 minutes; Bolognese: 10-15 minutes

INGREDIENTS

Spaghetti squash

  • 1 whole spaghetti squash (2-3 lbs. in weight)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Bolognese

  • 1 bag Trader Joe’s sliced crimini mushrooms (10 oz.)
  • 1 bunch of dino kale, washed, stripped and chopped
  • 1 lb. ground beef (organic, if possible)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil for cooking
  • ½ - 1 cup marinara sauce, like Rao’s Homemade
  • Parmesan or Pecorino Romano for serving

DIRECTIONS

Cooking the Spaghetti Squash

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Place a silicone baking mat or parchment paper on a baking sheet.
  • Cut the squash in half lengthwise from stem to tail and scrape out the seeds. NOTE: The squash can be microwaved for 2-5 minutes for easier slicing.
  • Drizzle evenly with olive oil.
  • Place squash, cut-side down, onto the prepared baking dish.
  • Place into the oven and roast until tender, about 35-45 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and let it rest until it is cool enough to handle.
  • Using a fork, scrape the flesh to create long strands.
  • Set it aside while you make the sauce.

Cooking the Bolognese

  • In a medium pan over medium heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.
  • Add the ground beef and cook until it is browned (no longer pink) for about 3-5 minutes. Break it up with a spoon or this handy tool, which is my new favorite!
  • Once the beef is browned, drain the excess fat. I like to use this draining tool. Alternatively, you can scoop the beef out with a slotted spoon and then dump the oil and excess fat out in the trash, not down the drain.
  • Wipe the pan clean with a paper towel. Warm the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add the minced garlic and sauté it for 30 seconds to 1 minute (max) until it is fragrant.
  • Add the mushrooms and sauté them for 3-5 minutes, until they are starting to sweat and soften.
  • Add the chopped kale and sauté everything for another 3-5 minutes, until the kale has wilted and is soft.
  • Remove the pan from the heat.
  • Combine the ground beef and the tomato sauce with the kale, mushroom and garlic mixture. Use just enough sauce to lightly coat the beef and vegetables. 
  • Serve the Bolognese over the spaghetti squash, with some Parmesan or Pecorino Romano sprinkled on top.

NOTES

You can use many kinds of vegetables in this Bolognese. Others that might work well are bell peppers (any color), broccoli (chopped small), spinach, any other kind of kale, chopped onions, etc. So many options! Just use whatever you have on hand.  

Whole Foods sell a really good organic ground beef (Step 4 on their five-step scale) in a package. It's usually on a refrigerated shelf in front of the meat counter and is significantly cheaper than their ground beef from the butcher case.

For more instructions and a video all about preparing spaghetti squash, check out this post from Damn Delicious.

This sauce would be great over pasta or rice too! 

If you want to make your own tomato sauce, you could try something like this