After talking with several mother’s of young children lately, I hear the struggle of not feeling like cooking after working all day. Moms want good food for their kiddos but also want to spend lots of time with them. A meal that takes longer than 30 minutes to make is often just out of the question for them.
My goal is to always make recipes that are healthy AND won’t have you in the kitchen preparing it for hours. Using a slow cooker is my favorite way to work around lots of time spent in the kitchen cooking. This is a great and EASY recipe that tastes amazing, is healthy AND will have you eating a hot dinner in less than 30 minutes.
This recipe is for 2 servings, however, you can use multiple slow cookers OR bake the spaghetti squash in the oven (which does take longer). See my tips and tricks section below the recipe to see how to bake it in an oven.
Prep/cook time: 30 minutes (plus the slow cooking time-either 4 or 8 hours, depending on your time needs)
Yield: 2 servings (See my tips and tricks section below the recipe about making more than 2 servings)
Suggested cooking tools: baking sheet, parchment paper, slow cooker, measuring cup, plate covered in paper towels, knife, spoon, fork, glass measuring cup
One spaghetti squash
2 cups water
2 tablespoons vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
a few dashes of sea salt
1 cup vegan marinara (You will have leftover sauce if you use a traditional 25 oz. jar, I used 365 Everyday Value (Whole Foods) Organic Marinara)
Six Gardein Meatless Meatballs (or another brand of “meatballs”)
Optional: Grated vegan parmesan cheese (I used Violife)
Rinse your squash and dry it. Carefully use a knife to poke holes all around the squash.
Place the spaghetti squash and the 2 cups water in the slow cooker. Either cook 4 hours on high OR 8 hours on low.
About 20 minutes before the squash is done cooking, heat the oven and bake the “meatballs” according to the package directions. If you are making this recipe for 2, then you will only need to bake 6 meatballs. If you use Gardein, the package is resealable, so you can easily bake only what you need. Or, bake them all if you want leftovers! They taste great with a little marinara the next day on a sandwich.
When the squash is done cooking, carefully remove it from the slow cooker a place it on a plate. It will be soft and wet, so I covered my plate with paper towels to catch any water.
Cut the cooked squash in half and remove the seeds with a spoon.
Place one tablespoon of butter onto each half and use a fork to mix the butter with the “noodles”. This will also break apart and loosen the noodles, which is what you want. You can also add a couple of dashes of salt to the squash for extra flavor at this point if you wish.
Warm the 1 cup of marinara in a saucepan or in a glass measuring cup in a microwave (if you use a microwave, cover it with a paper towel to avoid splatter).
Top each half of squash with 1/2 cup of marinara and 3 meatballs and the optional vegan parmesan. I left my “noodles’ in the squash and served the meal this way. (See images below the recipe for a visual). You can remove all the “noodles” from the squash shell and serve it that way if you prefer.
Eat and enjoy!
Tips and Tricks:
If you don’t have a crock pot, or want to make multiple squashes, you can still make this recipe! Baking a spaghetti squash isn’t difficult, it just takes some time. Here’s how to do it: Carefully poke holes all over the squash. Then use a large knife to cut it in half. Remove the seeds. Spread a bit of olive oil all over the squash portion of each half. Place the oil covered squash side facing down onto a parchment lined baking sheet/roasting pan/baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees F for 30-45 minutes. I usually check on it at the 30 minute mark, break apart some noodles with a fork, then return to the oven squash side UP to finish cooking.
When I went into an office to work, I would prep the squash with the holes the night before, place it in the slow cooker pot portion, cover it with the lid and place it in the fridge. Then I’d add the water the next morning and start cooking it for 8 hours right before leaving the house.
Store leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator
Just want to eat the squash with a bit of salt and butter? Go for it! It’s yummy too!