In my childhood spelling bees, we all stood in a little line and the teacher called out words that, had we confronted them on paper, would’ve appeared totally innocuous. When tossed at our blank 6th-grade stares like a verbal grenade, however, they might as well have been spoken in Swahili. I remember wanting so badly to win the bee at least one year; I was a great writer and speller, so it only made sense that I should win, right? Each bee, though, I would realize that oral competitions had a tricky logic all their own. Before long, I’d reach the inevitable moment where the letters I’d already said and the letters I still needed to say would combine in a sticky, confusing web in my brain.

One year “eclipse” was my downfall.

The next year, “monotonous.”

Now that I’m a teacher, I’ve noticed you can learn a lot about your students during a classroom spelling bee.

For instance, I learned that Chase is very conscientious.

On his turn, he got the word “obituary.” A funny look came over his face. “Ms. Ruble, is it okay if . . . well, while I’m spelling this word, I might spell a . . .,” he struggled to complete his thought. I realized where he was going and had to stifle a laugh.

“Just spell it however you think it’s spelled and it will be fine, Chase.”

He began, “O-b-i-t-c-h–“

Once he had finished and I had corrected his spelling, we had to pause the bee for a moment. We were all laughing uncontrollably, Chase included, and I was in no position to call the next word.

I also learned that Shreena is cursed. While students around her got words like “platoon” and “pantheon,” she ended up with “hors d’oeuvres” and “delinquency.” Aubrey shook her head and patted Shreena’s shoulder sympathetically.

I want you to know that I have never in my life spelled hors d’oeuvres correctly without looking it up, and I’m the language arts teacher and a food blogger and I took 5 and a half years of French.

I also learned that Will has flair.

When he messed up the first letter of a word, instead of just giving up, he gave it the most creative alternate spelling he could come up with. I think there was a Q, Z, and even a 3 in there.

I learned that none of my students — at least, none who received the word — can spell “deodorant.” I made sure to teach them how, just in case they would otherwise have trouble finding it in the grocery store. I might have also mentioned how middle school is the ideal time to begin wearing said product if they’ve not already done so. Just a quick side lesson for good measure.

Finally, I learned that my students rock (honestly, I already knew this.) Augury, fabulist, vernal, inimitable, salubrious, compendium, and nominative are just a few of the words they spelled correctly.

The spelling bee is fun for so many reasons — not least of all because it’s a simple “lesson plan” day for me. I have a simple dinner plan waiting for me tonight, too. I first saw these little squash boats on Skinnytaste, a blog I love, and couldn’t believe what a quick and healthy dinner fix they were. I tweaked mine with a little turkey pepperoni, and now I can’t stop whipping up this dish each night. I hope you love it too.

One year ago: Caramelized Banana Upside-Down Coconut Cake & Coconut Whipped Cream
Two years ago: Lemon Berry Crumble Breakup Bars
Three years ago: Pecan Maple Bacon Pancakes

Spaghetti Squash Baked “Pasta” Boats

Recipe by: Adapted from Skinnytaste
Yield: 2 servings

This baked “pasta” recipe is so quick and simple — it makes good use of the microwave and spaghetti squash to create a satisfying, comforting meal without the added calories and carbs from regular pasta. Each serving comes in around 470 calories, 45 grams net carbs (discounting the 12 grams fiber), and 24 grams of protein with a 2.5 pound squash (data from SparkPeople).

1 medium/large spaghetti squash (mine was about 2.5 pounds)
30 slices turkey pepperoni, chopped (leave out for a vegetarian meal)
1 1/2 cup jarred vodka pasta sauce
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
about 1-2 ounces mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon salt or to taste (less for a smaller squash)
pepper to taste

Halve the squash and scrape out the seeds and fibers in the middle. Poke a few holes in each half. Microwave the squash, one half at a time, for 9-10 minutes each half.

Preheat the broiler. While microwaving the squash, place the chopped pepperoni, vodka sauce, basil (reserving a bit for topping), and salt and pepper in a medium bowl. When the squash is finished and has cooled for a couple of minutes, use two forks to scrape the squash flesh into the bowl (it will separate into spaghetti-like “noodles”), reserving the squash skins to serve as bowls. Mix the squash and sauce mixture well until all ingredients are distributed. Divide this mixture into your two squash bowls.

Top each squash half with mozzarella cheese and a little more freshly ground pepper. Broil for a few minutes until bubbly. Remove and top with the reserved fresh basil. Serve hot.

28 Comments on Spaghetti Squash Baked “Pasta” Boats

  1. A_Boleyn
    January 15, 2013 at 8:26 pm (10 years ago)

    I enjoyed the recounting of your spelling bee. I still remember the year I had a bout of mental dyslexia and spelled ‘first’ as FRIST in our spelling class. We never had spelling bees while I was growing up, which is a good thing as I can write the words correctly but have issues keeping track of the spelling orally.

  2. Cookbook Queen
    January 15, 2013 at 10:13 pm (10 years ago)

    Sadly, I never won a spelling bee. Not from lack of trying, though. Words are much harder to spell in front of people, so I’m pretty sure I could have won if I could have whispered the words into a microphone from a private room or something.

    Also, this looks so yum. Love the squash “bowl”!!!

  3. Sharla
    January 15, 2013 at 10:16 pm (10 years ago)

    I love how you love your students 🙂 I wish all teachers were so enthusiastic!

    Also, can you believe I’ve never made any type of squash in the microwave? I’m afraid it will be hard for some reason. Ha!

  4. Amanda
    January 15, 2013 at 10:24 pm (10 years ago)

    I <3 Spaghetti Squash. It is the main squash I actually enjoy and I especially love how easy and meatless it is!

  5. Sarah
    January 15, 2013 at 10:46 pm (10 years ago)

    Nawwww! Love the things you can learn about kids from a spelling bee! It totally highlights the way that most children are ready to have fun at a moment’s notice. More adults need to relearn that lesson!

  6. Megan
    January 16, 2013 at 2:25 am (10 years ago)

    I’m a copy editor, and I always have to look up hors d’oeuvres! Your students definitely rock. And these squash boats look like they do too!

  7. the 3volution of j3nn
    January 16, 2013 at 6:37 am (10 years ago)

    Love the presentation. I think I might just have to make a boat sometime soon. Looks too good not to!

  8. Kate
    January 16, 2013 at 6:49 am (10 years ago)

    LMAO the whole time… ah, memories… and, yea!! Thank you for a new way to use spaghetti squash! Whoo hoo!

  9. Amanda @ The Dormestic Goddess
    January 16, 2013 at 2:24 pm (10 years ago)

    My most embarrassing spelling bee moment – I got out on the word “rosary” …and I went to a Catholic school. Not a high point in my academic career 😉

    These spaghetti squash boats look like a high point in dinner though! I’ve been obsessed with this gourd lately too, but that melty mozzarella is what really sold me!

  10. Elaine @ Cooking to Perfection
    January 16, 2013 at 4:10 pm (10 years ago)

    This is such a fun, creative idea! I love spaghetti squash and am always looking for new ways to prepare it. Definitely giving this a try!

  11. Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe
    January 16, 2013 at 4:28 pm (10 years ago)

    I love these stories that you share about your students, Julie. They sound like a great bunch!
    And these spaghetti squash boats sound fantastic – I love spaghetti squash but have never made it this way before. I’ll have to give it a try!

  12. Heather @ Bake, Run, Live
    January 16, 2013 at 6:49 pm (10 years ago)

    Love this idea! I have been enjoying spaghetti squash, but normally just as a pasta replacement for meaty spaghetti sauce or with chili.

  13. Jenni
    January 16, 2013 at 8:26 pm (10 years ago)

    I was just looking for a new way to use spaghetti squash! This looks magnificent, Julie! 🙂

  14. Jenny @ BAKE
    January 17, 2013 at 9:30 am (10 years ago)

    Your students sound so funny! I love how you’ve displayed this meal!

  15. Joan Nova
    January 20, 2013 at 1:22 pm (10 years ago)

    I so love your storytelling! And I love this spaghetti squash boat too. I use that squash a lot and have substituted it for pasta many times but never this way … before.

  16. Chef Adam Massimo
    January 24, 2013 at 12:37 am (10 years ago)

    Love the look and feel of the dish, very quirky and clever way to serve up the dish! Nice work. I am just a sucker for Basil, Tomato and pasta! Yummy.

    All the best #Chefadammassimo

  17. anieslamb
    January 26, 2013 at 12:16 am (10 years ago)

    I want you to know that i check your site often looking to see if you have updated. 😛 I guess I’m a fan.

    For Christmas dinner, I made 3 dishes for my inlaws. 1 regular meat lasagna, 1 no pasta vege layered meat lasagna ( I need a better name for this), and a spaghetti squash dish that was to die for.
    The Pesto Sausage Spaghetti Squash ala Anie was one of the best dishes I have made in a while. I have seen dishes similar to this but never one good as what I threw together.
    I cook the spaghetti squash the day before if possible. I cook mine in the microwave usually, I cover with with syran wrap, and cook on high for about 7 minutes. Then I take off the syran wrap, let it cook and de-seed it.
    1 cooked spaghetti squash
    1/4 cup of butter
    1 pounds of your favorite sausage. I used Italian herb chicken sausage.
    1/4 c. feta cheese
    4 TBSP parmessan cheese
    1/4 cup pesto

    Cook the sausage as directed on the package. Once cooked cut it into small bite size bites. (I cut mine into bites about the size of my pinky finger nail.) Do not drain the grease from the pan. Add the butter and pesto to the pan. Add the spaghetti squash and mix well. Once very well mixed add the feta and parmessan cheese. Mix again and serve.
    My inlaws raved about this dish. They usually don’t like me and complain about all food… So I call it a major thumbs up.

  18. Salvador Dali
    January 28, 2013 at 6:26 pm (10 years ago)

    mmm.. I would like to eat, you give a piece of? ;D

  19. muppy
    February 3, 2013 at 10:04 am (10 years ago)

    Love this idea, fantastic 🙂

  20. marla
    March 6, 2013 at 1:39 pm (10 years ago)

    Love this recipe! Will be linking back to this in my upcoming post 🙂

  21. Trish @infinebalance
    October 4, 2013 at 2:30 pm (9 years ago)

    I love this! My kids actually really, really like Spaghetti squash, but I’m always looking for new ways to prepare it. This looks yummy and fun.
    I hated spelling as a kid and have never been a good speller. If I didn’t have spell check, I’d be in a really bad way. AND – I’m a English Major, blogger and make my living writing financial reports. :p


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