Cheesy Pesto Chicken and Veggie Stuffed Spaghetti Squash: a mouthful of a title and a mouth full of spaghetti squash deliciousness!
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I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am for spaghetti squash season. It’s embarrassing. The second I see that carefully constructed mountain of squash stacked at the market I lose my mind.
I try to play it cool, telling myself that I’ll only buy one or two this trip, then find myself cradling half a dozen in my arms like a dog trying to fit ALL THE TENNIS BALLS in their mouth.
I’m told it’s quite a sight.
What’s also a sight, is this uber-vibrant recipe. It’s a total Fall fiesta in every bite. Feel free to use whatever veg you have on hand and if you get a little overzealous with the stuffing and toppings? Fret not! The leftovers may or may not taste fantastic spooned directly into your face. Or you can save it for an epic omelette the next morning. We sadly didn’t make it to leftover status so you know where you’ll find me…
Buying MORE SQUASH!
Ready for the recipe? Let’s do this! You will probably notice at first glance that the instructions are a bit wordy. Fear not! It’s mostly me explaining details and various prep options so you aren’t left with a ton of guesswork. The recipe itself is really easy and super customizable! I made it as an update to [this] super delicious recipe and both have quickly become family favorites around here!
- 2 medium-small spaghetti squash [6-7 inches long]
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1/2 cup pesto, extra to taste
- 1-2 cups fresh baby spinach, torn/chopped
- 1 extra large carrot, shredded
- 1 medium red bell pepper pepper, chopped
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 8 oz shredded cheese
- 1-2 TBSP fresh parsley to garnish
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Slice your spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. For easy cutting, feel free to stick each squash in the microwave for 5 minutes to soften it up just a tad. The knife slides through way easier this way!
- Next grab a lipped baking sheet or a rimmed baking dish.
- To prevent sticking, rub the cut side of the squash with a teeny bit of olive oil or simply place a little water inside your baking dish. Both work great!
- Place inside a baking dish or atop rimmed, lined baking sheet [some liquid will escape] and roast face-down for 30-40 minutes, or until tender and easily pierced with a fork.
- Cooking time will vary a bit depending on the size of your squash, and the once rock-hard exterior of the squash will be visibly softened.
- The squash can be roasted and stored in the fridge for a few days if you'd like to meal prep and plan ahead for a speedier dinner. You can also make the whole shebang one weekend and pop it in the fridge until about 30 minutes before dinnertime. Wind up with a little bit leftover? It reheats marvelously the following day! Now let's get back to the recipe!
- While the squash roast, cook chicken via your favorite method or squirrel away leftovers from the previous night's dinner. I poached mine.
- Chop chicken into bite sized pieces and toss with pesto.
- Set aside.
- In a small pot, heat a drizzle of olive oil to medium-high heat and sauté your bell pepper and carrot for a few minutes until tender. Next add the spinach and pesto chicken and stir to wilt the spinach.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Next add your cheese to the hot mixture. Mix a little over half the cheese in with the chicken and veggies and save the rest for topping.
- To stuff the squash you can simply pile on your pesto chicken and veggies or fluff the squash first with a fork before stirring in all you yummy mix-ins so there's yummy squash in every bite!
- Top with the rest of your grated cheese and cover the baking dish in foil, leaving a little room at the top [like a tent!] so the cheese doesn't stick.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for around 20-30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
- Garnish with fresh parsley and/or basil leaves and dig in!
Though this dish has a few components that are all cooked differently, don't fret! You can cook the chicken while the squash roasts and the veggies while the chicken poaches and, before you know it, the kitchen will be clean and you'll have food in your face. Love it!
I poached my chicken [I love how tender and juicy it gets] but you can literally use any method of cooking chicken that your happy heart desires, seriously! Bake it, grill it, slap it in a slow cooker, snag leftover chicken from last night's roast or even pick up a rotisserie at the store... anything goes!
Hold up, I think I’m going to need to get a little more up close and personal here for a second…
Much better! I don’t like there to be even a few inches from my face and that cheese! I could live in it!
Pretend that’s not weird.
Ooh! And while we’re at it – pretend you aren’t a fan of eating your veggies out of another veggie for a moment, or maybe you just need to trick someone that is. I have the perfect solution for even the most skeptical of eaters…
Spaghetti Squash Casserole!
Simply use a fork to liberate the tasty spaghetti squash noodles from their shell and pile them high with all the tasty toppings from the recipe above. Top it with cheese, cover with foil, and bake at 350 degrees F until hot and bubbly. In approximately 20 minutes you’ll have the most epic veggie casserole!
I’ve literally never in my life seen my husband scarf so much spaghetti squash. This recipe is magic. Make it.