Several years ago, a friend introduced me to spaghetti squash. I had never heard of it nor was I very interested. You see, I was still in my mid-20’s and almost everything I ate was made of flour. She claimed it tasted “just like regular spaghetti” to which I looked at her skeptically and giggled. But hey, I’m always willing to try something once!
I took a bite of this weird, crunchy, noodle-like vegetable expecting wheat pasta and yeah, it wasn’t happening. Utterly disappointed, I didn’t pick up this vegetable again until a couple of years ago. Fast-forward several years later and now I’m beginning to see the importance of fueling my body with wholesome foods. I actually cannot eat pasta or bread at every meal anymore without feeling the consequences (I think I killed my high tolerance for wheat back in my carb-binging days;-) I decided to give this squash another go and I’m so glad I did!
We typically top our spaghetti squash with a ground turkey tomato sauce, but this time I decided to use this cauliflower cream sauce that I adapted from Pinch of Yum. A lot of people call this kind of sauce “healthy alfredo” for some reason, which means I could’ve easily called this recipe Healthy Shrimp Alfredo Spaghetti, like so many have.
But then you would’ve had in your mind that soft wheat pasta with a buttery, cheesey sauce made with HEAVY CREAM for crying out loud, and then, like me many years ago, would’ve been disappointed upon that first bite..
..and then mad at me for lying to you!
Let’s just call it like it is, shall we? This is a much healthier alternative to a heavy cream sauce pasta. It is made with wholesome ingredients, is low carb, grain/gluten free, and can easily be adapted to be dairy free and vegan. It is also paleo and whole30 compliant, as long as you use olive oil or ghee instead of the butter.
Even though it doesn’t necessarily taste just like alfredo pasta, it’s still a very delicious and nutritious meal. You can choose to top it with some parmesan cheese, if you’re a cheese lover, or add some sautéed veggies like asparagus, zucchini, or broccoli. If you can’t eat shrimp, use chicken or omit if you’re vegan. It’s easily customizable, which is my favorite type of meal! Enjoy!
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- 1 medium spaghetti squash
- olive or coconut oil, salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, ghee, or butter (dairy free will work)
- ½ - 1 tablespoon minced garlic, depending on how much you like garlic
- 3-4 cups cauliflower florets, about 1 medium head
- ½ cup plain unsweetened almond milk or other milk of choice
- ½-1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- juice of ½ lemon, optional
- ¼ - ½ cup chicken/vegetable broth (you can also just use extra milk) until you reach desired consistency
- ½ - ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving (optional topping if not dairy-free)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, ghee, or butter, (dairy free will work)
- ½ tablespoon minced garlic
- 8-10 oz raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- salt and pepper
- pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
- juice of ½ lemon
- 1-2 tablespoons chopped flat leave parsley
- Preheat oven to 400F. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Scrape out all seeds and pulp and discard. Lightly coat inside with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on baking sheet and bake for 30-45 minutes, or until squash is tender. I sometimes put a little water in the bottom of the pan to help steam the squash, but it isn’t necessary. Check after about 30 minutes. “Noodles” should be tender, not crunchy. If you test it and it is still too crunchy for your taste, bake for 10-15 minutes longer.
- When squash is done, remove from the oven and cool slightly. Take a fork and rake the noodles down the sides of the squash, in the same direction as the strands are formed to get the best and longest noodles.
- While the squash is roasting, go ahead and get started on the sauce. Cut the cauliflower florets off the stem and discard any green leaves and the tough middle stem. Give the cauliflower a quick rinse, put in a large pot and cover with water. Put the pot on the stove and bring to a boil. Boil cauliflower until fork tender, about 8-10 minutes.
- While the cauliflower is boiling, melt two tablespoons of butter/oil in a large pan (we'll be using this pan again later) and sauté minced garlic over medium-low heat, until garlic is lightly browned and toasted, DO NOT BURN. Set aside for later.
- When cauliflower is done, remove from pot with a slotted spoon and place into the bowl of a food processor or powerful blender. Add toasted garlic with all the butter/oil from the pan, milk, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. If you eat cheese, adding parmesan cheese will give it an alfredo-like flavor. Blend until creamy. Add broth or additional milk, as needed, to get the sauce to blend up. It should be thick, but pourable.
- Season shrimp with salt and pepper. In the same large skillet that you sautéed the garlic earlier, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté slightly before adding shrimp. Add seasoned shrimp and sauté for 4-5 minutes, until pink. Remove from heat and sprinkle with red pepper flakes and lemon juice. Toss to coat.
- OPTIONAL: If you want to further flavor your sauce, you can pour it from the blender into the pan along with the shrimp. Stir to combine and heat if needed.
- You can choose to serve inside the squash shell or remove the spaghetti squash noodles and discard the shell. Toss squash “noodles” with cauliflower sauce and top with shrimp. Sprinkle on some chopped parsley or shredded parmesan cheese before serving.