I’m back at it again with the beloved spaghetti squash. I just can’t get enough of it – sorry I’m not sorry. I’ve received no protests concerning my spaghetti squash dinners from the one person I cook for, therefore, I figured I had to try cooking spaghetti squash lasagna because I’ve never met a lasagna I didn’t like. So what happens when you take one of the best dishes ever made and combine it with lower fat, calorie, and carbohydrate ingredients? You get pure bliss for your taste buds with no extra time required at the gym.
If you haven’t already noticed, I thrive on making food as healthy and low calorie/fat as possible. This spaghetti squash beef lasagna is an exemplary dish where one can easily eliminate unnecessary calories, fat, and carbohydrates without sacrificing the taste. Don’t believe me? You will after you try it and understand the nutritional breakdown.
The four ingredients I tampered with from a typical beef lasagna recipe were ground beef, lasagna noodles, ricotta cheese, and mozzarella cheese. I used 93% lean, 7% fat content ground beef, replaced the noodles with spaghetti squash, and I substituted low-fat ricotta and low-fat mozzarella cheese in place of their fattier forms.
The lighter version of the four ingredients previously mentioned eliminates approximately 1,479 calories from the ENTIRE dish. In other words: a typical beef lasagna comes out to about 3,309 calories for the whole thing and 413 calories per serving. In skinny terms, my lighter version of lasagna calculates to about 1,830 calories for the entire dish and 229 calories per serving. I know, I was equally surprised – and elated. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some leftover spaghetti squash beef lasagna that is calling my name for dinner.
Spaghetti Squash Beef Lasagna
-3 tbsp olive oil (for sautéing)
-1/2 tbsp butter (for the spaghetti squash)
-1 large spaghetti squash (You can use a medium squash, but just know you will probably only be able to do a one-layer lasagna instead of two. If you really want the double-layered lasagna and you only have small spaghetti squashes available, just cook two small ones)
-1 medium white onion, chopped
-1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce (I used Classico’s cabernet marinara; or be awesome and make your own sauce)
-1 pound of 93% Lean, 7% fat ground beef
-1 15 oz low-fat container of ricotta cheese
-1/2 cup of 2% shredded mozzarella cheese
-1 cup of fresh basil leaves (loosely packed), chopped
-10 oz frozen spinach (the size of a typical pack), thawed and drained
-Dash of red pepper flakes
-Salt and Pepper to taste
-1 to 2 tsp of Italian seasoning (the more the merrier)
-1/2 tsp of dried parsley
* I recommend cooking the beef and prepping the other ingredients while the spaghetti squash cooks. It cuts your time significantly – to about 45 minutes of hands on preparation and another 20-30 minutes of baking (where you don’t have to do anything – except maybe clean up).
-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the spaghetti squash lengthwise, remove the seeds, sprinkle with salt, and place cut-side down in a baking dish (I used a pyrex dish. Also note: if you need to cut off the end of the squash to fit into the dish, it will still cook properly). Fill the dish about a quarter to a third of the way up with water. If you are a salt freak like me, you can add more salt to the water. Bake for 50-55 minutes (Cooking times will vary depending on the size of the squash and your oven. A small spaghetti squash should cook for 30-35 minutes, a medium squash for 40-45 minutes, and a large squash for 50-55 minutes as listed above).
-Take the spinach out of its package and thaw in a colander. I ran warm water over mine to speed up the process. I then took a slotted spoon and rigorously pressed the remaining water out of the spinach.
-While the squash bakes, sauté the garlic on medium heat in the olive oil until golden in a large pot. Immediately add the chopped onion, salt and pepper to taste, Italian seasoning, dash of red pepper flakes, and parsley and stir together. Sauté the onions for about five minutes on medium to high heat, or until they begin to appear translucent.
-Add the ground beef and sprinkle on a little more salt. Cook for about five minutes, or until the beef has completely browned.
-Pour in the marinara sauce and cook for about 25 minutes, but make sure to stir the contents periodically. Depending on the beef and marinara sauce you use, it may take a bit longer to cook off any additional liquid. Just make sure your final meat sauce doesn’t have too much liquid, or else the lasagna won’t bake properly. The picture below is what my sauce looked like when fully cooked. Once it is fully cooked, turn the burner to low to keep the sauce warm.
-While the beef and squash are cooking, chop the cup of basil leaves. Take the spinach and basil leaves and place in a bowl. Stir in the ricotta cheese until all three ingredients are well incorporated. Set aside.
-Once the spaghetti squash is cooked, remove from the oven, drain the water, and set the dish aside for about five minutes to cool. With a fork (and once the squash has cooled), scrape out the squash into a large bowl. The outer skin is VERY hot, so watch out (I wear an oven mitt)! Add the ½ tablespoon of butter and salt and pepper and stir it into the squash. Set aside. If your spaghetti squash produces a lot of liquid, just strain it before adding it to the lasagna.
-In a baking dish (I used the same pyrex dish that the spaghetti squash cooked in), scoop out about half of the meat sauce and spread as evenly as possible.
-Spread about half of the spaghetti squash over the sauce. I recommend using a spoon or a spatula to most efficiently move the ingredients around.
-Take half of the ricotta cheese mixture and spread it on top of the squash.
-Repeat the last three steps.
-Sprinkle the ½ cup of mozzarella over the top of the second layer of ricotta cheese.
-Place in the oven and cook at 350 degrees for approximately 25 minutes, or until the mozzarella cheese is fully cooked/melted. Let the lasagna cool for about five minutes before serving.
-Last, and certainly not least, ENJOY!
If you like spaghetti squash, check out my Cheesy, Bacon Spaghetti Squash recipe!