Oh! My! Goodness! Stuffed Spaghetti Squash, loaded with tender, juicy chunks of chicken, grape tomatoes, and fresh spinach, is bursting with flavor from the basil pesto that infuses the dish. You would never know it's low in carbs and deceptively healthy. What a truly easy one-pan weeknight dinner option that is sure to satisfy your family.
Pesto Chicken Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
Healthy doesn't have to be bland or boring. It's all about the flavors found in the ingredient list. And let me tell you, your palate is going to relish the taste of this Spaghetti Squash with Chicken recipe. It's loaded with texture and flavor. And btw, the checklist for ingredients found in this recipe is not extensive or elaborate. It's simple with many of the items already in your kitchen.
Ingredient List for Stuffed Squash
- Spaghetti Squash. The star of the show is by far this magical vegetable that is transformed from a hardened golden gourd into a beautiful boat of flavorful "noodles."
- Chicken Tenders. I chose tenders instead of strips for the reason that the name implies - "tenders." Chicken strips are slightly tougher but honestly, you could use any type of chicken that you have in your freezer.
- Sweet Onions and Garlic. These aromatics are a staple in my pantry. I hardly ever cook without pulling them out and adding them to a dish and it's no different with this Pesto Chicken Stuffed Spaghetti Squash. They add a nice dimension to the overall flavor.
- Basil Pesto. I choose pesto that is made with extra virgin olive oil. It's healthier than say sunflower or canola oil. You may spend a little bit more, but in my opinion, it is well worth the cost and it is a healthier option.
- Parmesan Cheese. This gives the dish a bold nutty flavor. When buying this cheese, it's best not to grab a bag that is already grated. Parmesan cheese is best grated right before including in the recipe. And please, whatever you do, don't reach for the powdery green can. It's just NOT the same.
- Fresh Baby Spinach. Anytime you add greens to a dish, you always freshen and brighten it up. Spinach is such a nice complement of texture, flavor, and beauty.
- Grape Tomatoes. Along with the Spinach, these grape tomatoes give the dish a pop of color. A juicy sweet aspect is added by the tomatoes to the pesto chicken filling enhancing its overall appeal.
Cutting and Roasting the Spaghetti Squash
Cutting and roasting the spaghetti squash is the most time-consuming portion of this recipe. You'll find my post on "How to Roast Spaghetti Squash" here where I give tips on cutting the squash, roasting it, and fluffing the strands. Once this step is accomplished, the rest is a breeze.
How to Make Pesto Chicken Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
#1 Begin by cooking the cubed chicken tenders
With a little bit of olive oil in a large skillet with the heat on medium-high, add the chicken in a single layer to the pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook for about 4-5 minutes until the insides are no longer pink. Be careful not to overcook so as to not have rubbery dry pieces of chicken. Immediately remove from the skillet and cover with foil to keep warm.
#2 Cook the Onions and Garlic
These aromatics are the flavor foundation of this recipe. In the same skillet that you cooked the chicken, turn the heat down to medium. Pour in a little more olive oil and add the chopped onions. You don't want to chop the onions too fine. I like them to be somewhat coarse to add texture to the finished dish. Always season savory dishes in layers. Add more salt and pepper to the onions at this point. Sauté them for about 6-7 minutes until they are tender and somewhat charred. Minced garlic makes its entry at the very end of cooking the onions. It only takes about 30 seconds for the garlic, otherwise, it can burn quite easily.
#3 Combine all the ingredients into the Skillet
Everything goes into the skillet, onions, garlic, cooked chicken, basil pesto, shredded parmesan, fresh spinach, and grape tomatoes. Gently toss everything together and turn off the heat. You want the spinach to wilt slightly and the tomatoes to lightly blister from the heat.
#4 Fluff the Spaghetti Squash Noodles
Once the squash has been roasted and is cool enough to hold with your hands, use a fork to scrape the strands of spaghetti squash. Start from the outside and work inward until the entire center of the squash is fluffed.
#5 Stuff the Roasted Spaghetti Squash
This is the easiest step of the entire recipe. You literally just spoon the pesto chicken filling over the top of the fluffed roasted spaghetti noodles.
#6 Sprinkle with Extra Parmesan Cheese and Broil in the Oven
The finale of this Spaghetti Squash production is topping with extra grated parmesan cheese and placed back in the oven under the broiler. It's really that easy! Watch it carefully at this stage though, it only takes a minute or two at the most.
Can this Recipe be made ahead of time?
You can roast the spaghetti squash five to seven days ahead of time, let it completely cool, and place the squash in an air-tight container. Store it in the refrigerator until ready to stuff it with the pesto chicken mixture.
I don't recommend making the actual stuffing ahead of time mainly because of the freshness of the spinach and the tomatoes. But you could use leftover chicken from another meal and it would work great.
How to Store Leftovers
If for some reason you have leftovers or just wanted to make extra, these stuffed squash can be stored in an airtight container after they have cooled completely. Because of the chicken, this should be consumed within three to four days from preparation.
How to Reheat Leftovers
To are a few ways to reheat the stuffed squash bowls.
In the Oven - cover them with foil so they do not dry out and place them in a 375°F oven for 10 or 15 minutes or until the middle of the filling is heated.
In the Microwave - cover each squash with a damp paper towel, and microwave on medium for about 45 seconds. Carefully stir, then continue to reheat checking the temperature every 15-20 seconds.
Other Substitute Ideas for Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
Marinara Sauce with Meatballs. Any leftovers from my Spaghetti Sauce and Meatballs would be a perfect addition to this recipe.
Pizza Stuffed Spaghetti Squash. Whatever type of pizza you prefer would be a brilliant substitution. Add pizza sauce, any ingredients that you like, and then topped with fresh mozzarella cheese. Mmmmm!
Stuffed with Cheesy Spinach and Artichoke Dip. Use my Spinach Artichoke Dip recipe and dollop a large amount on top of the noodles. I also have a Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Chicken recipe. Any leftovers would be delicious over roasted spaghetti squash.
Chicken Alfredo. Check out this healthy version, Creamy Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce with Mushrooms. It would be fantastic in this bowl.
Jalapeño Poppers. If you make extra Jalapeño Poppers and are looking for a way to use them up, stuffing them in this recipe would be fabulous. I would add extra smoked gouda and cream cheese to the stuffed spaghetti squash to make it more creamy.
Tacos. Pull out all your favorite taco ingredients and add them to these yummy boats. Taco meat, shredded cheese, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, etc.
Once these beauties emerge from the oven, you have the most satisfying flavorful dish of the century. And beyond that, it is quite a healthy option for you and your family. Just look how colorful and fresh this dish is.
Check out more "healthy" options on this blog:
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Pesto Chicken Stuffed Spaghetti Squash in the Oven
Loaded with tender, juicy chunks of chicken, grape tomatoes, and fresh spinach, this stuffed squash is bursting with flavor from the basil pesto infusing the dish. You will never know it's low in carbs and deceptively healthy. What a truly easy one-pan weeknight dinner option that is sure to satisfy your family.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Chicken
- Method: Roasting
- Cuisine: American
- 2 small Roasted Spaghetti Squash, halved
- 1 ½ pound Chicken Tenders, 1-inch cubed
- 1 large Sweet Onion, chopped
- 8 large Garlic Cloves, minced
- 7 tablespoons Basil Pesto
- 1 ½ cups Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated (divided)
- 3 cups Fresh Baby Spinach
- 2 cups Grape Tomatoes, halved
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add 1 ½ pounds cubed chicken tenders to the skillet and season with salt and pepper.
- Cook the chicken for 4-5 minutes until no longer pink. Be careful not to overcook.
- Remove the chicken from the skillet and cover with foil to keep warm.
- Turn the heat to medium and heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
- Add 1 large chopped sweet onion and sauté until tender and somewhat charred for about 6-7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add 8 large minced garlic cloves and sauté for 30 seconds.
- Add chicken back into the skillet.
- Add 1 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese, 7 tablespoons of pesto, 3 cups of fresh baby spinach, and 2 cups of grape tomatoes.
- Gently mix all these ingredients together until combined.
- Spoon the pesto chicken into the four spaghetti squash shells.
- Top with the remaining ½ cup of grated parmesan cheese.
- Turn the oven to broil and place the stuffed squash under the broiler for one minute or until the parmesan cheese has melted.
- Serve warm.
- I chose tenders instead of strips for the reason that the name implies - "tenders." Chicken strips are slightly tougher but honestly, you could use any type of chicken that you have in your freezer.
- I choose pesto that is made with extra virgin olive oil. It's healthier than say sunflower or canola oil. You may spend a little bit more, but in my opinion, it is well worth the cost.
- When buying this parmesan cheese, it's best not to grab a bag that is already grated. Parmesan cheese is best grated right before including in the recipe. And please, whatever you do, don't reach for the powdery green can.
- Cutting and roasting the spaghetti squash is the most time-consuming portion of this recipe. Here you'll find my post on "How to Roast Spaghetti Squash" where I give tips on cutting, roasting the squash, and fluffing the strands.
- These Pesto Chicken Stuffed Squash can be stored in an airtight container after they have cooled completely. They should be consumed within three or four days after preparation.
- To reheat, bake the stuffed squash bowls in a 375°F oven for 10 or 15 minutes or until the middle of the filling is heated.
- Serving Size: ½ Stuffed Squash
- Calories: 617
- Sugar: 10 g
- Sodium: 1348 mg
- Fat: 32 g
- Saturated Fat: 7 g
- Unsaturated Fat: 10 g
- Trans Fat: 0 g
- Carbohydrates: 31 g
- Fiber: 6 g
- Protein: 53 g
- Cholesterol: 148 mg
Keywords: stuffed spaghetti squash, chicken spaghetti squash, pesto spaghetti sauce