This harvest squash casserole marries the flavors and textures of fall into a beautiful, delicious side dish. In 1991, just a few years after we were married, we stopped by the local grocery store for a couple of things. In the front of the store was a large display of Robert Mondavi wine.
I picked up a bottle of Chardonnay, and hanging from the neck of the bottle was an entry form for the “Robert Mondavi Great Italian Recipe Contest”. The first place prize was a trip to Italy, so on a lark I decided to enter the contest. I’d have to work quickly, the deadline for the contest was less than 10 days away.(This post was originally published on November 9th, 2011. As an Amazon Affiliate, I earn commission on qualifying purchases.)
With less than a week to go before the deadline, and no “World Wide Web” at the time, I’d have to rely on snail mail. I’m not sure what compelled me to pick up a spaghetti squash, since I’d never actually cooked one before. I threw together a dish, which Spencer thought tasted delicious.
It was the fall and I was having harvest-y thoughts, so I named it, “Harvest Squash” and popped the recipe in the mail.
I ended up making it for Thanksgiving that year, and then pretty much forgot about the contest. In March of the next year, a letter came from Mondavi, telling me that I was one of five contestants who placed second in the contest. I would be receiving a check for $1,000. To a young married couple living in a 700 square foot apartment, this was a windfall!
How to make squash casserole
The ingredients for this colorful casserole are simple, spaghetti squash, carrots, zucchini, fresh thyme and parsley, garlic, olive oil, butter, and parmesan cheese. Saute the shredded carrots and zucchini briefly in butter, garlic and olive oil, then toss with cooked spaghetti squash and grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
How to cook Spaghetti Squash
You can cook spaghetti squash a couple of ways. I find that it’s pretty difficult to cut the spaghetti squash, so baking it first makes it easier to cut. If you choose this method, bake it at 350 degrees F. for about an hour to an hour and 10 minutes. You can tell that it’s done when it’s easily pierced with a knife. Use oven mitts or let it cool until it’s easily handled, then cut either horizontally or vertically, and carefully scrape out the seeds and stringy bits. I like to use kitchen shears to cut out the inner circle of seeds and stringy bits.
You can also cut it first and then bake it on a baking sheet for about 40-45 minutes, I usually ask for help when I chose this method. Cutting it from “pole to pole” will produce shorter, bite-sized strands. Cutting it on the “equator” produces longer “spaghetti” like strands.
If you’re short on time, you can cut the squash pole to pole, and steam the halves in a pyrex dish with a little water, in the microwave the halves for about 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of the squash. You can remove the seeds before or after cooking.
This harvest squash casserole is also gluten free, low-carb, and keto friendly.
Now my daughters prefer spaghetti squash to regular pasta. I often use this No-Cook Fresh Tomato Sauce or Pesto with Spaghetti Squash, or this Whole30 Spaghetti Squash dish.
Some of the items used in this post are available at my Amazon store.
Harvest Squash Casserole
- 1 spaghetti squash, cooked (see above for cooking options)
- 3 large zucchini finely shredded, about 4 cups
- 3 large carrots finely shredded, about 3 cups
- 8 cloves garlic minced
- 1 bunch fresh thyme chopped
- 1 bunch fresh parsley chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh parmesan or pecorino romano cheese grated
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- Kosher salt to taste
- white pepper to taste
Cooking Spaghetti Squash
- To cook in the oven: Cut spaghetti squash in 1" slices and place on a baking sheet, or cook whole by placing in a baking dish and cover with foil, cook for about an 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 at 350*F.
- To cook in the microwave: Microwave: Cover halves with paper towel and place in a dish in an inch or so of water and cook on high for about 10 minutes. Flesh should easily fall away from sides in strands. Seeds can be scraped out before of after cooking.
Making the squash casserole
- Heat olive oil and butter in a heavy skillet on medium heat. Add minced garlic and saute briefly.
- Add shredded zucchini and carrots and saute a couple more minutes.
- Next, add fresh herbs, salt and pepper, and saute another minute.
- Toss cooked spaghetti squash with zucchini and carrots in a separate bowl or serving dish with cheese. Check seasoning.
- Serves 12 as a side dish. It can be made a day ahead and reheated.
Joy @ Yesterfood says
Cynthia, I saw this on FB and came right over to check it out. I can see why it’s a “grand” (lol) recipe! I love spaghetti squash, but never have any interesting ways to prepare it. And I love a pretty dish- the colors in this are perfect. Pinning!!
Annie @ Annie's Noms says
What a great way to use Spaghetti squash! So many great flavours in this! 🙂
This is awesome, great story and recipe!
Maris (In Good Taste) says
So pretty! I love colorful dishes like this one.
Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence says
So many beautiful flavors, colors and textures here. I can see why this recipe won you that 1,000 bucks!
Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet says
Spaghetti squash is one of my favorites! Our garden did *really* well this year and we seriously have 36 spaghetti squash! Needless to say, I’m looking for recipes – thank you! 🙂
Faith (An Edible Mosaic) says
That is such a great story! (Food with a story is always much more fun, isn’t it? Especially if it’s $1000-prize winning!) I can see why this recipe won, it looks incredible!
Thank you! That was a lot of money in 1992…heck, it’s a lot of money now!
Brandy M says
I have done a spaghetti squash lasagna before and loved it better than the pasta version, I am betting I would love this too!
So people really do win those contests! I would’ve absolutely fell over, how fun is that to win!! 😉 I like what you’ve done here with the spaghetti squash, as I never know how or what to use it in. Pinning this for future use this season!
The funny thing is that was my very first time cooking with spaghetti squash and entering a cooking contest! Lately I’ve been tossing spaghetti squash with my summer pasta, no-cook tomato sauce.
Christina | Christina's Cucina says
I haven’t made a squash in ages, but this sounds wonderful! Love that you spent your prize for a cordless phone! 🙂
Taylor Kiser says
What a perfect side for the holidays! Looks delicious!
MARY JENISON says
This is a casserole, is it baked after all ingredients are combined? At what temp and for how long? Or served at room temperature?
No, it’s ready to go as is. Serve it as you would any side dish. And if your thanksgiving is anything like ours, we always struggle with getting everything out at the same time AND hot! I suppose you could top it with more cheese and bake it, but I’ve never done it that way before.
mimi rippee says
Isn’t spaghetti squash fabulous? So versatile and healthy. The other day I just scooped it out and sauteed it in olive oil with garlic, and added chick peas. But I love how you added veggies as well.
My girls like it better than real pasta! So that’s a win!
The recipe looks delicious, the presentation is half the battle…
But two questions
-No mention of how many cups of spaghetti squash, so curious about that…
– and no comment about whether or not someone actually made it and it was good. In my head it sounds awesome just would like to verify that…
Hi Rob, it’s so hard to figure out cups on a spaghetti squash as they vary in size so much. If I put “2 cups spaghetti squash” and the squash you bought turned out to be 2 1/2 or 3 cups, the recipe would still work. Unlike baking which requires exact measurements, cooking has a flexibility. Just remember to taste and adjust the seasoning to your palate. Hope that helps. Cynthia
Thanks for your quick response…
Sharon Rosenberg says
One if the best cool weather recipes! I’ve made this many times as a side dish and a meal. It’s requested by dinner guests. Will be making it again for Thanksgiving dinner. Can’t say enough about how tasty it is, and so easy to prepare!
Thank you! Glad it’s become a household staple!
I tried this and loved it! Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful recipe; I can see why it won the contest. Will be making this as a Thanksgiving side, too! Delish!
Thank you! Glad you liked it!
The recipe doesn’t say anything about How to reheat when you have to prep it in advance?
Just heat in oven, covered on a low setting, 300-325 degrees F. until warm.
I made this for dinner last Wednesday and it was delicious! I’m pretty sure it’s my new favorite way to eat spaghetti squash! 🙂
This was amazing! My husband raved about and asked me to make it again two days later 🙂