Spaghetti Squash Lasagna
We’ve hit full-on hibernation mode here in Wisconsin, and this Spaghetti Squash Lasagna is the only sort of recipe it feels appropriate to be eating. It has all the characteristic lasagna comforts that we need when the thermometer dips into the single digits—the stretchy cheese, the chunky, hearty red sauce, the load-up-your-fork and think warm thoughts appeal—but is lightened up to be a healthy weeknight meal.
Eating this Spaghetti Squash Lasagna is the happiness of your warmest, fleeciest pair of sweatpants, slimmed down so that you can comfortably slip back into your skinny jeans when the freeze finally clears and you head back outside. (It will clear, won’t it?) Spaghetti Squash Lasagna, you give me hope.
I came up with this recipe a few weeks ago 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, spaghetti squash boats have become one of my favorite ways to serve spaghetti squash, especially these Taco Spaghetti Squash Boats and these Spaghetti Squash Boats with Chicken and Bacon.
The week I developed this recipe, I was craving Italian—when it’s cold outside, Italian food always seems to be the right remedy—so I decided to give the spaghetti squash a lasagna spin.
As you dig your fork into this recipe, you’ll find the components of classic lasagna inside, with one noticeable departure. Once you taste it, my very astute hunch is that you won’t mind the change one bit!
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 recipe you are looking for, you can check out this Spaghetti Squash Casserole), but I’m standing by it!
Classic Lasagna Components This Squash Lasagna Is Rockin’:
- Chunky Red Sauce. 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.
- To keep the recipe quick and easy, I also 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 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.
- For a vegetarian Spaghetti Squash Lasagna, omit the meat entirely or try swapping it for sautéed mushrooms.
- Creamy Ricotta Filling. Or if you a) grew up in the Midwest or b) are curious about our Midwestern ways, you can use cottage cheese in place of the ricotta. For an extra serving of healthy veggies and burst of green, I added frozen spinach. 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.
- Don’t forget the melty cheese. Mozzarella is classic, but I prefer something with a little more oomph like fontina or smoked provolone.
- Also, Parm. Salty, nutty, and a lasagna necessity.
Now, we’ve arrived at the point where the recipe departs with tradition. NO NOODLES!
Instead of pasta, the spaghetti squash strands are folded into the ricotta mixture. From there, the filling is stuffed back inside the squash halves, topped with that dreamy red sauce and cheese, then baked.
Rational human that I am, I do love myself a big plate of carby pasta, but in the case of this Spaghetti Squash Lasagna recipe, 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.
Making lasagna with spaghetti squash strands instead of noodles also means that this recipe is low carb.
(I’m not a keto diet expert, but for those following that diet, spaghetti squash is OK for keto too, depending upon your serving size. You can always use a smaller squash, then supplement with additional sauce.)
Final selling point: no noodles means no time-consuming layering. Where lasagna is typically a labor of love, these Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Boats are fairly quick, especially if you cook the spaghetti squash in advance.
Serving Spaghetti Squash Lasagna
We were feeling particularly virtuous, so I served this Spaghetti Squash Lasagna with broccolini that I’d lightly sautéed.
That said, if you are in a hurry, with its built-in servings of protein and veggies, this recipe is certainly capable of acting as a standalone, all-in-one meal—my very favorite kind!
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!
- 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.
Nutrition InformationAmount per serving (1 of 6) — Calories: 294, Fat: 16g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 83mg, Carbohydrates: 14g, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 5g, Protein: 26g
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