Katie Lee Biegel's Twice-Baked Spaghetti Squash with Chicken and Broccoli Tastes Just Like a Creamy Bowl of Pasta Alfredo
Calling all volume eaters! If you've ever dreamed of sitting down to a massive bowl of chicken Alfredo pasta without eating up your entire day's calorie and fat content in one meal, WW rep/cookbook author/TV host Katie Lee Biegel has your solution.
I was clued in about the existence of this recipe thanks to a rerun of Food Network's The Kitchen that aired on Monday, December 27th, as part of the channel's almost-new-year's-resolution-season line-up. While I'm not one to make January 1 resolutions to limit specific foods, eating more vegetables—and eating more delicious things in general—is always a valiant goal, so my ears perked up when I heard Biegel describe the dish. (It was part of the "Hearty and Healthy" episode of The Kitchen, by the way, which featured other healthyish dishes like co-host Geoffrey Zakarian's Sweet Potato Crust Pizza and co-host Jeff Mauro's Butternut Squash Chicken Pot Pie.)
What really made me run to my computers and pin the recipe to whip up ASAP was Katie Lee Biegel's huge and healthy Chicken and Broccoli Twice-Baked Spaghetti Squash that she describes as, "something I'm obsessed with. It's tasty and it's good for you and it's really hearty."
Since the episode originally ran in 2018, the "pasta" dish has garnered more than 110 reviews with an average rating of 4 ½ out of 5 stars.
"This is killer [and] hits all the right notes: It uses (and uses up!) things I likely have in my fridge, can be made in stages to a point, and is fun to make and eat and delicious," one fan raves. Another five-star reviewer adds, "Oh! My! Stars! Katie, thank you for sharing this recipe. Absolutely delicious! Easy to make, great for leftovers. Everyone should definitely make this. A total winner."
It starts with a savvy solution for all of us who hate fighting our way through the tough shell of spaghetti squash. Rather than slicing the thick-skinned vegetable before roasting, Biegel suggests poking a few slits in the skin of a medium spaghetti squash with a knife (to allow steam to escape as it cooks) and roasting in a 400-degree oven for about 75 to 90 minutes.
Allow this to cool for 20 minutes before handling, then cut off the stem, slice it in half, remove the seeds and use a fork to flake the squash fibers into strands. Reserve the peel of each squash half.
"Spaghetti squash only has 42 calories in a cup," Biegel says, as she begins assembling the sauce. "And it is full of fiber and vitamins. I love pasta. I love carbs, but this is a way of doing something that's a little bit lighter." (By contrast, 1 cup of regular spaghetti has about 196 to 239 calories, depending on how tightly you pack the cup, according to the USDA.)
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, add 2 cups of 2% milk (some fans commented with a suggestion to start with 1 ½ cups or squeeze some moisture out of the squash before adding it in again later, as this entree can err on the "too wet" side even after baking). Pop in one whole smashed clove of garlic to infuse the milk; you'll pull this out later, Biegel says. Allow the milk warm until it just begins to simmer, then reduce the meat to medium.
Next up, stir in 4 ounces of Neufchatel cheese. "It's right next to the cream cheese and has one-third less fat than regular cream cheese. It's just a lighter option that gives you the same amount of flavor," Biegel says. Then she adds a kicker that makes us solidify our cook crush on the well-balanced Biegel: "I'm not saying fat is bad," but this is such an incognito shift that no one will even notice. Plus, the full-fat cheese and 2% milk still deliver enough fat to satisfy and help you absorb all of the nutrition from the veggies in this meal. (Research proves that we need to consume some fat with our vegetables—see ya, fat-free salad dressing!—so our bodies can absorb important phytonutrients like carotenoids.)
Once the Neufchatel is incorporated, add ¼ cup grated Parmesan, 1 cup shredded mozzarella and stir until all of the cheese is melted. Flip off the heat, whisk in ¼ cup Greek yogurt and season with salt and pepper. Remove the garlic, then use tongs to add the squash strands, 2 cooked chicken breasts, diced, and 1 cup of blanched broccoli florets (or frozen broccoli straight from the bag). Toss to coat, divide the mixture evenly between the two squash shells and top with ½ cup more shredded mozzarella.
"This is kind of like doing a twice-baked potato, actually," Biegel says, as she scoops the filling into each squash half. "Each one is going to weigh like 5 pounds."
Broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly, grab a fork and prepare to feast. One squash half is one huge serving, Biegel says. And I bet any extras reheat like a dream under the broiler if you don't polish them off in one sitting.
"Head of the class," co-host Sunny Anderson comments after taste-testing a bite. "This is an A . It's Alfredo-y without being laden in all that cream and butter…you take a bite of this and you're left wanting nothing else," Jeff Mauro adds.
We bet you want nothing else but the recipe after hearing how vegetable-rich and delicious it is, so here you go: Katie Lee Biegel's Chicken and Broccoli Twice-Baked Spaghetti Squash.