Each day I look through Instagram for new food ideas that I can customize for my family or for inspiration for things I can remake with whole food ingredients. Today, I saw just such a recipe from COOKIE+kate for Spaghetti Squash Burrito Bowls that I had to try. The ingredients were compliant with my son’s diet (Specific Carbohydrate Diet used to treat Crohn’s disease) and my own grain-free and dairy-free plant based diet for my health needs, plus I could customize it to add in some meat and a grain for my family members with broader food choices.
Now one of the considerations for me to consider a recipe for rotation in our meal calendar is the ability to prep parts of it ahead. This recipe as written is fabulous, but I immediately saw ways I could speed up the process. I couldn’t wait to put it to the test!
First, I need to clarify that I prepared the recipe using the ingredients and measurements as listed. I am a big believer in trying a recipe as written at least once before you tweak it, so long as it meets our dietary needs. The only thing I tweaked was the HOW I cooked the spaghetti squash. The recipe as written is a vegetarian recipe that includes fresh, whole ingredients.
Streamlining the Cooking Process
I recently saw a post about cooking a spaghetti squash in the Instant Pot and knew this was a good opportunity to give it a try. Here are the steps for speeding up cooking the spaghetti squash:
- Cut a spaghetti squash in half.
- Clean out and throw away the seeds
- Placed the wire ring that comes with the Instant Pot in the bottom of your Instant Pot
- Pour 1 cup of water into the Instant Pot
- Drizzle each half of the spaghetti squash with the olive oil and sprinkle with the ground black pepper and salt, as is written in the recipe.
- Put the halves of the spaghetti squash into the Instant Pot, with the insides facing UP.
- Place lid on top of the Instant Pot and cook on manual setting for 7 minutes.
While the Spaghetti Squash was cooking, I began assembling the ingredients for the rest of the recipe. Each weekend I use my Instant Pot to cook a batch of beans, hardcook some eggs, and either cook a roast or chicken for quick protein options during the week. I was able to pull some pre-cooked beef roast from the fridge to add as an additional topping option for the recipe, as some of my family members eat meat. I also already had red pepper and purple cabbage chopped and in dishes in the fridge from our weekend veggie chop session for the week. I was able to pull out the ingredients listed for the recipe and quickly measure them and put them together while the spaghetti squash was cooking in the Instant Pot.
Because I already had chopped veggies in the fridge, the black bean and purple cabbage mix just required measuring the ingredients into a bowl, sprinkling with some salt and lime juice, and stirring so it could marinate for a bit. The exciting thing was I hadn’t even planned to make this recipe ahead. I lucked out and already had all the needed vegetables prepped anyways for building salads and veggie sautés for the week. My TIP to you is chop a bunch of veggies each weekend and store in glass containers in the fridge. Then, you can quickly toss them together for recipes like this!
Also, the avocado salsa was super simple to toss together using my little Ninja food processor. I am a sucker for most things avocado, and this sauce did not disappoint! The whole family agreed that this was the BEST PART of the recipe!
In addition to the listed recipe, I made rice for my husband and daughter to use as a base for their bowls. They each prefer rice over spaghetti squash, so this was a simple way for them to customize their bowls. Also, my son can only eat so much fiber, so I shredded some roast in my food processor quickly and warmed it up so he could choose to top his bowl with that for added protein instead of him adding a ton of the beans and cabbage like I used on mine.
From start to finish, the meal was cooked and table set in 20 minutes. The best part was everyone could customize their Burrito Bowl to their own personal taste. The avocado sauce you pour on top was what took the recipe from tasty to exceptional in my opinion! Plus, the only pre-packaged item in the entire recipe was the Salsa Verde I used in the avocado sauce. You could certainly make this from scratch too, but we didn’t have those ingredients in the house so I did use a pre-made salsa.
If I had roasted the spaghetti squash in the oven, as the recipe listed, the meal would have likely taken closer to an hour and 15 minutes to prepare. Because I had veggies, beans, and meat already prepped in the fridge and I used the Instant Pot to cook the spaghetti squash, I was able to speed up this process immensely.
I encourage you to go check out this tasty recipe for Spaghetti Squash Burrito Bowl from COOKIE+kate, as it really is amazing! Also, as you look at new recipes try to think of ways you can streamline the process using tips and tricks for kitchen efficiency, such as prepping protein ahead on the weekends, chopping veggies ahead, and using tools like a slow cooker or Instant Pot. Family dinners can be FAST FOOD made from CLEAN, WHOLE FOOD! You don’t have to sacrifice flavor, texture, or appearance! Most importantly, if you have a family with differing dietary needs, I encourage you to look for recipes that can easily be customized by each person at the table. I hope your family enjoys this recipe as much as ours did!