Parmesan Spaghetti Squash is for those days when you know you need to eat your vegetables, but are craving something a little more indulgent. We take baked spaghetti squash noodles and toss them with a little bit of brown butter, fried thyme, and plenty of chopped walnuts. It’s all tossed with a handful of parmesan cheese for the perfect healthy side that goes with just about anything.
Parmesan Spaghetti Squash with Brown Butter
If you’re in a vegetable rut, let me introduce you to your new best veggie friend. Parmesan spaghetti squash. This savory, slightly sweet, and perfectly salty take on spaghetti squash is packed with notes of brown butter and fresh thyme. Interspersed between the slightly aldente spaghetti squash “noodles,” you’ll find tons of texture from toasty chopped walnuts that also simmered in the nutty brown butter.
Just before serving, the spaghetti squash is tossed with a handful of grated parmesan cheese to echo the nuttiness in the brown butter. The sum of this parmesan spaghetti squash is so much more than its parts – every ingredient sings harmoniously together, and I know this is something we’ll be coming back to time and and time again.
If you love our Ravioli with Brown Butter and Delicata Squash, then you’ll love this version of Parmesan Spaghetti Squash. I basically took all of the flavors out of that recipe, and copied them here. But instead of loading up on pasta and carbs, you can load up on fiber-rich, lower carb spaghetti squash. It’s the best of both the flavorful, and healthy world. Always a win.
Ingredients in Parmesan Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti squash. I like to use two two-pound spaghetti squashes here. The smaller ones take less time to cook, and make the perfect amount for about four people.
Butter. To make brown butter, you must start with regular ol’ butter. You’ll only need a few tablespoons. After all, we’re trying to keep things relatively healthy around here.
Walnuts. I used walnuts because it’s what I’m currently infatuated with, but pine nuts or pecans would also be really lovely. I like to buy roughly chopped walnuts and then chop them down a little bit more. I like having varied textures throughout the parmesan spaghetti squash. If you buy yours already chopped pretty finely, don’t worry about it.
Thyme. I’m sort of playing off the brown butter and sage flavor combination we use ALL THE TIME. It’s one of my favorite flavor combinations (Most recently we’ve seen it in this epic Crispy Roast Chicken) , so I thought it would be a nice change to use thyme instead which has a more citrus-y flair to it.
Parmesan cheese. Hand-grated good-quality parmesan cheese is what you want to use here. If your grocery store sells the good quality stuff pre-grated, that’s ok too.
How to cook spaghetti squash whole
There are a few ways to go about cooking spaghetti squash, but my favorite way, is to cook spaghetti squash whole. Just like a butternut squash, spaghetti squash can be notoriously difficult to cut. To play it safe, I always like to cook spaghetti squash in the microwave first. Just place the whole squash in the microwave and cook for 4 minutes.
After, it will be much easier to cut.
From there, I like cut off a little piece of both ends so the squash can stand up straight. Next, I cut the squash in half horizontally. This is a really important step, because if you want long spaghetti strands it’s best to cut into spaghetti squash rings, so the noodles stay long. When you cut the squash vertically, or long, it cuts the squash strands in half, making them super short.
When you cook it this way, you also create little “bowls” you can serve the squash in, it’s really quite cute.
After you cut the squash in half, I scoop out all of the seeds with a spoon, and then brush the insides with a little bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for another 20 minutes or so until you can use a fork to pull off the spaghetti squash noodles.
Keep in mind, you really don’t want to overcook the squash. You want the noodles to be similar in texture to an aldente pasta. If you cook the squash too long, you risk the noodles becoming super soft and mushy.
How to make Parmesan Spaghetti Squash
Cook the squash. We just learned about that, see above.
Make the brown butter. While the squash cooks, add the butter to a medium skillet. Turn the heat on low and add the butter. Once the butter melts, turn the heat up to a medium-high heat. Swirl the pan until the butter begins to brown.
Cook the nuts. Once the butter turns a deep golden brown color and smells nutty, add the thyme and chopped nuts. Toss the nuts and thyme in the butter until the nuts are slightly toasted and the thyme is fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove the thyme from the butter and set aside. Remove the pan from the heat.
Pull the squash strands. Use a fork to gently pull the squash strands from the sides of the squash. Pull the noodles apart. Add them to the pan with the brown butter and nuts.
Toss everything together. Add the cheese to the spaghetti squash and nuts. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Serve.
Can I make this ahead of time.
You can definitely make parmesan spaghetti squash in advance. I would actually slightly undercook the spaghetti squash, so when you go to reheat the squash, it doesn’t become mushy.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- Do not overcook the squash! Spaghetti squash can easily go from perfectly aldente and noodle-like to mushy and soft. Treat the squash as you would pasta. Only cook the spaghetti squash until the squash strands are soft, but have a slight bite to them and stay intact.
- If you don’t have walnuts, you can use pine nuts, pecans or any favorite nut.
- Brown the butter more than you think. You really want it to be a deep brown color to achieve the most flavor.
- Swap out parmesan cheese for asiago, pecorino, or Romano.
- Feel free to use sage instead of thyme. Both will work wonderfully.
- If you need to loosen the squash up a little bit, add in a touch of chicken stock or water.
- Always season to taste with salt and pepper.
If you love this recipe, be sure to check out these other veggie-centric dishes
- These Brown Butter Green Beans have some of the same flavors we see here. Crisp green beans are tossed in brown butter, toasted almonds and the perfect mount of garlic. The perfect veggie.
- Roasted Mexican Spaghetti Squash is another favorite spaghetti squash recipe we have. It has all the classic flavors of an enchilada, but in spaghetti squash form.
- If you’re sick of boring sautéed carrots, let me introduce you to these Roasted Carrots with Pistachio Butter. So simple, but so different and delicious.
- 2 2lb spaghetti squashes
- 2 tbsp + 2 tsp unsalted or salted butter
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- sheet pan
- saute pan
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Place squash in the microwave. Cook for 5 minutes. Repeat with the other squash. Use a large chef's knife to cut the very ends off of the squash so they can stand up straight. Use the same knife to cut the squashes down the middle horizontally. (See photo.) Cutting the squash this way will help pull long strands.
- Melt 1 teaspoon butter. Use hands to rub the butter on the inside of the squash. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Place the squash on a baking sheet, cut-side down. Roast for another 20-25 minutes until the squash easily pulls away from the sides. Be sure you don't overcook the squash, you want the "noodles" to be aldente similar to any other pasta. If you cook the squash too long, the noodles will turn mushy and break.
- While the squash cooks, melt remaining butter in a medium skillet over a low heat. Once the butter melts, increase the heat to medium-high. Swirl the pan until the butter becomes a deep brown and smells nutty. Reduce the heat to low and add the nuts and the thyme springs. It will spit and spatter, just pull the pan off the heat until it calms down. Cook 1-2 minutes until the nuts are toasted and the thyme is fried and crisp. Remove from heat. Remove thyme leaves.
- When the squash is done cooking, use a fork to pull the strands away from the sides. Add the squash to the saute pan. Pull all the leaves off the thyme sprigs and add to the squash. Toss the squash with the butter, nuts and thyme. Add parmesan cheese. Toss again. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with extra thyme and parmesan.