Spaghetti Squash Lasagna
Here to prove that delicious and cheesy comfort food can, in fact, be healthy: Spaghetti Squash Lasagna. It has all the characteristic lasagna comforts that we desire—the stretchy cheese, the chunky, hearty red sauce, the load-up-your-fork and think-happy-thoughts appeal—but is lightened up enough to be a healthy weeknight meal.
I came up with this easy spaghetti squash recipe when I was testing out Crockpot Spaghetti Squash. We had an unusually high number of cooked spaghetti squash halves hanging out in our refrigerator awaiting their purpose.
Over the years, stuffed spaghetti squash recipes have become one of my favorite ways to serve this delightful little squash, especially these Taco Spaghetti Squash Boats and these Spaghetti Squash Boats with Chicken.
Squash boats are incredibly filling, endlessly customizable, and taste ultra comforting, all while making it easy to sneak in your servings of veggies.
The inspiration for this spaghetti squash recipe came when I was craving warm Italian food, which always seems to hit the spot. I decided to try making lasagna with my extra baked spaghetti squash halves.
As you dig your fork into this recipe, you’ll find the components of classic lasagna, with one noticeable departure. Once you taste it, my very astute hunch is that you won’t mind the change one bit!
Reasons to Make this Easy Spaghetti Squash Lasagna
Rational human that I am, I do love myself a big plate of carb-loaded pasta, but in the case of this spaghetti squash lasagna with meat sauce, we truly did not miss the noodles one bit.
I adored the fact that I was eating something that tasted deeply comforting but was, in fact, largely made of vegetables.
- It’s Low Carb. Making lasagna with spaghetti squash strands instead of noodles also means that this recipe is low carb. (If you’re looking for another noodle-free lasagna dish, try my Eggplant Lasagna or Zucchini Ravioli)
- It’s Quick. No noodles means no time-consuming layering. Where lasagna is typically a labor of love, these spaghetti squash lasagna boats are fairly quick on the prep end, especially if you cook the spaghetti squash in advance.
- Eating Spaghetti Squash is Good for You. Yes, spaghetti squash is healthy! While low in carbs and calories, spaghetti squash is also packed with fiber, vitamin C and B6, and antioxidants. It also contains high amounts of the mineral, manganese, which is important for overall bone health.
How to Make Lasagna with Spaghetti Squash
OK, so “lasagna” might be a bit of a generous use of the term considering everything is stuffed inside the spaghetti squash halves instead of layered separately in the pan. If that’s the style of recipe you are looking for, you can check out this Spaghetti Squash Casserole, but I’m standing by this one too.
- Spaghetti Squash. The star of this show! Once cooked, the texture will resemble cooked pasta noodles. Plus, we’ll use the spaghetti squash skin as a “bowl” of sorts to hold all the ingredients together.
- Ground Turkey. I opted to make this spaghetti squash lasagna with ground turkey to keep it lean, mean, and protein rich. If you prefer, you can make the spaghetti squash lasagna with chicken or lean ground beef. For a vegetarian spaghetti squash lasagna, see tips in the “Recipe Adaptations” section below.
- Easy Red Sauce. To keep the recipe quick and easy, I applied one of my favorite shortcuts and used good-quality store-bought pasta sauce instead of making tomato sauce 100% from scratch. For a boost of flavor, I added a pinch of red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, and a splash of red wine vinegar. By the time the sauce simmers on the stove, no one will be the wiser, and you’ll appreciate the time savings.
- Creamy Ricotta Filling. Classic, flavorful lasagna goodness. Or if you a) grew up in the Midwest or b) are curious about our Midwestern ways, you can try spaghetti squash lasagna with cottage cheese instead of the ricotta.
- Frozen Spinach. I love spaghetti squash lasagna with spinach for an extra serving of healthy veggies and a burst of green. No need for fresh spinach here—in lasagna, there’s little taste difference, and frozen is equally nutrient rich, more convenient, and less expensive than fresh.
- Melty Cheese. Mozzarella is classic, but I prefer something with a little more oomph like fontina or smoked provolone.
- Parmesan. Salty, nutty, and a lasagna necessity.
- Cook the squash. You can cook the spaghetti squash in the oven or try my slow cooker method.
- While the squash bakes, heat oil in a skillet, and add turkey and seasonings. Stir and cook until browned. Add the garlic. Stir in the pasta sauce and vinegar.
- Once the squash is baked, fluff the squash to separate the strands.
- Place the spinach in a large bowl and add the ricotta filling ingredients. Stir to combine. Add spaghetti squash strands to the bowl. Stir to combine, then place the squash halves cut side up on the baking sheet.
- Fill the squash: Add the ricotta filling, then top with tomato sauce, and cheese. Bake until heated through.
- Brown the top (optional): Turn the oven to broil. Broil the squash until bubbly and browned. Sprinkle with fresh herbs and ENJOY!
How Do I Cut a Spaghetti Squash?
In order to make baked spaghetti squash recipes, we need to first cut our spaghetti squash into two halves.
- Grab a sharp knife, and make small incisions along the side of the squash where you plan to cut it.
- Now, microwave your squash for about 5 minutes. Let cool until it’s no longer too hot to touch.
- Lay your squash on a cutting board, and slice off the stem. Then, cut along the line of incisions you made earlier.
- Once cut in half, use a spoon or ice cream scoop to remove the seeds from the inside of your halves.
How to tell if spaghetti squash is bad: when you slice your spaghetti squash in half, the color should be bright and yellow. If you see any discoloration or the texture is mushy, the squash is bad.
What Does Spaghetti Squash Taste Like?
- Once cooked, spaghetti squash will taste like a firm-but-soft noodle with just a tiny hint of sweetness.
- The taste of spaghetti squash is very mild, which is why it makes a great substitution for pasta in many recipes.
- The mild taste of spaghetti squash also makes spaghetti squash recipes like this one especially kid friendly.
- To Make Gluten Free. Make sure you are using a gluten free pasta sauce.
- To Make Vegetarian or Vegan. For those needing vegetarian or vegan spaghetti squash recipes, omit the meat entirely. You could try swapping it for sautéed mushrooms instead. For extra protein, you can also add a can of rinsed and drained white beans.
- To Make Keto. While I’m not a keto diet expert, spaghetti squash is typically very keto-friendly, depending upon your serving size. For keto spaghetti squash recipes, you could always use a smaller squash and supplement with additional sauce to suit your needs.
How to Store, Reheat, Freeze Spaghetti Squash Lasagna
- To Store. Place cooked and cooled lasagna in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- To Reheat. Gently rewarm leftovers in the oven at 350 degrees F until heated through. You can also reheat leftovers on a microwave-safe plate in the microwave until warm.
- I do not recommend freezing this dish, as frozen spaghetti squash tends to become mushy and watery once thawed.
- You can freeze leftover sauce separately and use it to top pasta or freshly baked spaghetti squash later.
What Goes with Spaghetti Squash?
With its built-in servings of protein and veggies, this recipe is certainly capable of acting as a standalone, all-in-one meal, but here are a few ideas of what to serve with it:
- Vegetables. Spaghetti squash lasagna with broccolini or Roasted Zucchini would be tasty.
- Salad. I love pairing this with a light salad like Caesar Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad with Crispy Chickpea Croutons or Winter Salad with Kale and Pomegranate.
- Bread. Rosemary Olive Oil Bread or Roasted Garlic Potato Rolls would be a hit with this dish!
Recommended Tools to Make Spaghetti Squash Recipes
- Sharp Chef’s Knife. One of the most important kitchen tools. Ideal for cutting spaghetti squash.
- Cutting board. This one has TONS of space! I love this no-slip cutting board as well.
- All-purpose baking sheet. This works great for tasty spaghetti squash recipes like this one.
WELL PLATED COOKBOOK UPDATES
- Kathryne made my Peach and Avocado Green Salad (a.k.a. Book Club Salad).
- Jeanine made my Cowboy Caviar.
- Sandy made my Whole Wheat Blueberry Banana Bread.
- Mary made my Kickin’ Black Pepper Pork Stir Fry.
- Brita made my Asian Lettuce Wraps.
- Phi made my Better Avocado Chickpea Toast.
- Christy made my Caprese Chicken Skillet.
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Spaghetti Squash Lasagna
- 2 medium spaghetti squash
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons olive oil - divided
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt - divided
- 3/4 teaspoon black pepper - divided
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 cloves garlic - minced
- 1 (24-ounce) jar good-quality tomato pasta sauce - I like roasted garlic or tomato basil
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 (10-ounce) pack frozen spinach - drained and pressed as dry as possible
- 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese - or low-fat 1% or 2% cottage cheese
- 1 cup shredded fontina, mild provolone, mozzarella, or similar melty cheese - divided
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Chopped fresh parsley
- Bake the squash: Place a rack in the upper and lower thirds of your oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Slice the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Drizzle the cut sides with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil each and then sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper over all. Place the squash cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour 1/4 cup of water into each baking sheet to prevent sticking. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the squash flesh is fork-tender and the skin gives a little when pressed. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
- While the squash is baking, heat the remaining tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium high. Add the turkey, 1 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Stir and cook, breaking apart the meat into small pieces, until it is fully cooked through and browned on all sides, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Reduce the heat to low. Stir in the pasta sauce and red wine vinegar. Let simmer 1 minute. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired.
- Place the spinach in a large mixing bowl. Use a fork to separate any large clumps. Add the ricotta, 1/2 cup fontina, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir with the fork to combine. When the squash is cool enough to handle, use a fork to fluff the insides into strands and add the strands to the bowl. With the same fork, stir to combine, evenly distributing the ingredients as best you can. Return the squash halves to the baking sheet, cut sides up.
- Fill the squash: Pile the ricotta/squash filling evenly into each of the four halves. Top with tomato sauce, remaining shredded cheese, and Parmesan. Return to the oven and bake until the filling is fully heated through and the cheese is melty, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Brown the top (optional): Turn the oven to broil. Broil the squash until the cheese is extra bubbly and lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Watch it carefully, and do not walk away so that it doesn't burn. Sprinkle with parsley and enjoy!
- TO STORE: Place cooked and cooled spaghetti squash lasagna in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm leftovers in the oven at 350 degrees F until heated through. You can also reheat leftovers on a microwave-safe plate in the microwave until warm.
- Depending upon how much sauce you like, you may have extra. You can freeze the leftovers or use them later in the week over pasta or on spiralized noodles.
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