These comforting, delicious vegan spaghetti squash boats are packed with pesto, a mushroom, tomato and white bean filling and topped with vegan cheese and crispy breadcrumbs. The ultimate comfort food with fewer carbs and plenty of vegetables!
How to prep spaghetti squash
Spaghetti squash can be a pain to prep due to their thick outer skin. To prevent injury (and make your life easier!), we recommend following these steps.
When we first tried this recipe, I found that it was impossible to slice into the squash without first softening it. Luckily, the microwave makes this a speedy and easy process, while also partly cooking the flesh (which means shorter overall cook time).
Start by washing the outside of the squash and patting dry. Use a fork to make indentations all over the squash (this allows steam to get in to the squash, cooking it faster).
Wrap the squash in a damp paper towel (not too wet). Microwave on high for 5 minutes, then carefully remove and let cool slightly before handling.
Slice and remove seeds
Not that the squash has been partially cooked, it should be much easier to slice! Use a sharp knife to slice the squash in half lengthwise. Be careful – it may be pretty hot from the steam.
Next, use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds. You can either roast the seeds or discard.
Lastly, brush the squash generously with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. We use a pastry or grill brush to evenly distribute the oil.
Place the squash face side down on a baking sheet. This prevents the squash from drying out and also helps it cook faster!
Since the squash has already been pre-cooked in the microwave, it only takes about 20 minutes in the oven. When it's fork tender, it's ready to go.
Once the squash is tender, you can use two forks to "shred" the squash. Now you'll see why it's called spaghetti squash...it looks just like pasta!
In this recipe, we recommend leaving about a half inch of squash on each side and the bottom, but you can remove the rest of the filling and mix it in with the rest of the vegetables so it takes on more flavor.
More filling ideas
We love pesto and vegetables as the filling in these spaghetti squash, but the possibilities are endless! Here are a few more ideas for filling:
- Homemade Lentil Meatballs and Tomato Sauce
- Lentil Walnut Taco "Meat"
- Mediterranean Quinoa with pine nuts, sun dried tomatoes and kalamata olives
- If you're not vegan, you can also add a protein like shredded rotisserie chicken or ground beef.
While the spaghetti squash is roasting, prep the filling. Both the pesto and the filling are easy to make, but if you'd prefer to use store-bought pesto to make things easier, go for it.
To make the pesto, simply add all ingredients to a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. To thicken the pesto and add a bit more heft, we also add in some vegan ricotta. However, this is optional and you can also just use the pesto!
Meanwhile, in a separate pan, get the onions sautéing in some olive oil. Once soft, add in the mushrooms, tomatoes, parsley, salt and pepper. Once the mushrooms and tomatoes cook down, stir in the white beans and some of the shredded spaghetti squash.
To assemble the boats: Start by spreading a thin layer of pesto on the bottom of each squash. This way, you get plenty of flavor in every bite, even when you get to the bottom!
Next, add in the vegetable/white bean filling. Top with another thin layer of pesto, then finish off each boat with a generous handful of shredded vegan cheese and breadcrumbs.
We find that the breadcrumbs on top help the vegan cheese get nice and melty in the oven. After about 10 minutes in the oven, the breadcrumbs will be toasty, crunchy and so delicious! You can leave them off if desired, but the textural contrast made these perfect.
More vegan weeknight dinner recipes you'll love:
- Tofu Marsala
- Quinoa Stuffed Zucchini Boats
- Pasta Primavera
- Thai Peanut Quinoa Salad
- Greek Chickpea Salad
If you make these vegan pesto spaghetti squash boats, we’d love for you to leave a comment and rating below! We also love to see your creations on Instagram – tag us at @crowded_kitchen so we can see what you’ve been cooking.Print
These comforting, delicious vegan spaghetti squash boats are packed with pesto, a mushroom, tomato and white bean filling and topped with vegan cheese and crispy breadcrumbs.
- 2 spaghetti squash (smaller is better)
- 1 ½ tbsp olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 cups sliced mushrooms
- 1 ½ cup whole cherry tomatoes
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- ¾ tsp fine grain kosher salt
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 14oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Kale Pesto with Ricotta:
- ¼ cup walnut pieces
- 1 clove of garlic
- 1 cup well packed baby kale (or spinach)
- ¼ cup fresh basil
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- ½ tsp lemon zest
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (more for a smoother pesto)
- ¼ tsp fine grain kosher salt, more to taste
- ⅛ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ⅓ cup vegan ricotta cheese
- Shredded vegan mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup Italian style breadcrumbs
- 1 tbsp melted vegan butter
- Preheat oven to 375˚F.
- Wash spaghetti squash, then pierce with a fork in several places. Wrap in a damp paper towel and microwave each squash (separately) for 5 minutes. Remove from microwave and let cool slightly. Slice each squash in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to remove the seeds. Brush each squash with a bit of olive oil and salt. Set face side down on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add all pesto ingredients except olive oil to a food processor. Pulse until everything is well combined, then slowly stream in the oil while blending until you reach desired consistency. Add in the ricotta and pulse until combined.
- In a skillet, heat olive oil and add onion. Sauté for 5-7 minutes, then add in mushrooms, tomatoes, parsley, salt and pepper. Sauté for 8-10 minutes, until the mushrooms and tomatoes are softened and cooked down.
- Remove the spaghetti squash from the oven. Carefully flip and use two forks to shred the squash. Remove most of the spaghetti squash shreds, leaving about ½" border on each side. Add the shredded squash to the mushroom mixture along with the white beans and stir well.
- Melt butter and stir well with breadcrumbs.
- To assemble: spread the bottom of each squash with a thin layer of pesto. Next, fill each boat almost to the top with mushroom/white bean filling. Top with more pesto, then top with shredded vegan cheese and breadcrumbs.
- Return to oven for 9-11 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are crispy and browned and the cheese is melty. Enjoy!
Feel free to use store-bought pesto to make this quicker.
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: pesto spaghetti squash boats