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Recipe: Classic Shrimp Scampi with a Healthy Twist

3 minutes to read

Fresh spaghetti squash with basil and sauteed shrimp

Do you love spaghetti but hate the calories, gluten, and carbs? I know I do.

However, I recently discovered spaghetti squash.

The spaghetti squash is about the size and shape of a football, has yellowish skin, and has a mild, neutral flavor. Spaghetti squash got its name from how its cooked flesh separates into long strands resembling noodles.

Spaghetti squash on display at the market

Besides being easy to cook, spaghetti squash is low in carbohydrates, and calories, paleo diet friendly, and contains a lot of fiber and other healthy nutrients. You can easily scrape it into spaghetti-like strands that have nearly the same texture, flavor, and color as spaghetti.

Well, it doesn’t taste exactly like spaghetti pasta. It’s more tender and not as chewy. It has a lighter flavor – somewhere between zucchini and butternut squash.

Due to its neutral flavor, spaghetti squash pairs well with many sauces, including tomato-based, cream, and butter or olive oil with seasoning.

Spaghetti squash requires no special equipment and is in season in the fall and winter but is often available year-round. So, it’s the perfect time to try a classic recipe like Shrimp Scampi.

Scooping out the squash can also be a fun activity for children helping out in the kitchen. Make sure to let it cool down from cooking before you start. The recipe below is a healthy update to a classic pasta dish. This version is 210 calories less than the original, yet it still tastes as deliciously decadent.


Half cut spaghetti squash top down view with fork placed on top of one half and seeds scattered around

• 3 lb. spaghetti squash (halved lengthwise and seeded)
• 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
• 1 tbsp. minced garlic
• 1/2 tsp. salt (divided)
• 1/3 cup dry white wine
• 1 lb. shrimp (peeled and deveined raw, 16-20 per pound, tails left on, if desired)
• 1 tbsp. lemon juice
• 1/4 cup fresh basil (chopped)
• 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
• 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
• 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut spaghetti squash in half. Take a spoon and clean out the seedy section. (You can save the seeds and roast them to snack on. They taste similar to roasted pumpkin seeds.)

2. Spread a bit of olive oil on the flesh, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

3. Place halves cut-side down on a baking sheet. Bake until tender, 35 to 45 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a knife all the way through the squash.

4. Let squash cool just enough that you can handle it with your hands.

TIP: Do not overcook your spaghetti squash! Start checking for doneness and optimal texture at 30 minutes. If overcooked, it will not form strands and will turn to mush.

5. Heat the rest of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic, stirring, for 60 seconds.

Stirring minced garlic with wooden spatula into oil within a skillet

6. Slowly add white wine and bring to a simmer. Add shrimp and cook, stirring, until the shrimp are pink and just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.

A bowl of fresh raw pacific white shrimp peeled with tail on

7. Use a fork to scrape the squash flesh from the shells into a medium bowl. Add chopped basil, butter, pepper, and a 1/4 teaspoon salt; stir to combine.

8. Pour the shrimp over the spaghetti squash. Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve.

Fresh spaghetti squash with basil and sauteed shrimp

Nutrition Info:  

Serves: 4 | Serving Size: 1
Per Serving: 360 Calories, 20g Fat, 25g Carbohydrates, 9g Sugar, 5g Fiber, 20g Protein

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