Veggie Basket Pasta Marinara

I have been pretty busy at work lately, back into serious triathlon training, and back to being pinched for time. Certainly, this is pretty normal for most folks, as the holiday shine has worn off and reality has resumed.

So, for this week’s Test Kitchen Tuesday I didn’t have a lot of time to research new ideas. Instead, I called upon the card catalogue in my brain while on my bike trainer to think up what to make, based on past blogs and recipes I’ve read. It’s amazing the clarity available while one spins away endlessly without getting anywhere!

I wanted something hearty but not too heavy in the calorie department, as 2Chili and I have embarked on what we’re calling our “Near Year’s 10 Pound Challenge.” This is really a way for both of us to get to our racing weight over the next few months by supporting each other, not really a contest per se. But as the cook, it is up to me to provide something healthy, nutrient-dense, and reasonable in the way of calories.

The end result was a veggie marinara pasta with a twist. I was able to serve up a big plateful that was low on calories by calling on whole wheat pasta, spaghetti squash, zucchini squash, and carrots. The spaghetti squash and zucchini served as faux noodles, so we were able to each have only 2 ounces of pasta but get a very full plate! 2Chili had previously balked at using spaghetti squash as pasta, but didn’t even realize I had done just that in this dish. Sneaky, sneaky, sneaky! Oh, and healthy too!


Veggie Basket Marinara

Downloadable Word Document Recipe

Time Required:

  • 45 minutes (passive) to roast spaghetti squash
  • 5 minutes to chop veggies
  • 20 minutes to cook pasta

Skill Level:PlatePlate

2Chili’s Taster Rating: StarStarStarStar

Makes: 2 servings, with leftover spaghetti squash; adjustable up to 8 servings with one spaghetti squash


  • 1 medium spaghetti squash, roasted
  • 2 small or 1 medium zucchini squash, cut into spaghetti strips
  • 4 ounces whole wheat pasta (add 2 ounces for each additional serving)
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • Spritz of olive oil
  • 1 glove garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups low sodium pasta sauce


  • Preheat oven to 400 F.
  • Cut spaghetti squash in half and remove seeds; Place face up in a casserole dish or cookie sheet and roast for 45-50 minutes, until flesh is soft
  • Chop zucchini into “pasta,” leaving it in long, thin strands
  • Grade 2 carrots
  • Simmer sauce over low heat in a medium sauce pan
  • Sauté onion, garlic and carrots in a little olive oil until onion is translucent but still fragrant, and add to simmering pasta sauceDSC_0178
  • With about 20 minutes left to go on spaghetti squash, boil water and add pasta and steam zucchini; I suggest steaming the zucchini over the boiling pasta with a colander covered with the lid to a large pot. Ideally, your pasta and spaghetti squash are done at the same time!
  • Drain the pasta and briefly set aside and scrape out about 2 cups of spaghetti squash with a fork
  • Add spaghetti squash, pasta, and zucchini into the pasta pot and mix until nicely combined
  • Serve topped with the marinara sauce


Click to EnlargeBased on low sodium pasta sauce – regular pasta sauce will dramatically increase the sodium content.


The Verdict: I’ll make this again for sure. 2Chili cleaned his plate, but left a pile of onions off to the side because I hadn’t quite sautéed them long enough. If you’re not being as nitpicky with the calories, add 1/4 cup of part skim mozzerella or some parmesan cheese to the top!

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