Saturday, January 4, 2014

Spaghetti Squash: It's What's For Dinner

With the start of the new year and the restart of my better eating (Oh, Christmas, what did you do to me?!), I've been looking for ways to eat well without getting completely bored.  Let's face it, eventually the stuff that's good for you, starts to taste a little blah after a while.  And I am the ultimate creature of habit.  Once I see something works, I stick to it.  And that leads to a case of food monotony so severe that I would rather starve than bite into one more piece of grilled chicken. 
So with this in mind, I've been on  a hunt for something new—or at least new to me.  I'd heard of using spaghetti squash as an alternative to pasta before but wasn't sure I was ready to give it a whirl.  Then my sister mentioned it a month or so ago and it really piqued my interest.  So, I tried it.  Um, yum!  I used it in place of regular spaghetti noodles to try and cut out my extreme overuse of carbs (I mean really, is there ever a bad time to eat bread?) and was very pleasantly surprised. 

I'm probably late to the spaghetti squash party.  But that's ok.  I'm here now.  

I've been on Pinterest and Google (probably in equal parts) trying to find what I consider the perfect recipe for lasagna that uses spaghetti squash.  Unable to find exactly what I was looking for (because I like things amazingly easy and with minimal steps), I took parts of them all and made my own.  The end result was a seriously good meal.  A little more baked spaghetti than lasagna, but who cares?  Bonus points for making it as healthy as possibly by using 2% cottage cheese as opposed to ricotta (even though I love it) and ground turkey breast instead of sausage or beef. 
Best part?  My husband actually liked it.  A lot.  The two-year-old?  Not so much.  But that's why I keep the makings of grilled cheese in the house. 

The texture is the biggest thing to get used to when you bite into this dish.  Spaghetti squash has a crunch to it.  So, don't expect it to have the consistency of your usual pasta noodles.  But come on, give it a shot.  I bet you'll be glad you did.  And if not, well, there's always grilled cheese. 

Here's the recipe. 
Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 1 lb ground turkey breast
  • 2 Tbsp. garlic, pre-minced (Yep, that's a lot of garlic—feel free to adjust to your garlic taste)
  • 16 oz. carton 2% cottage cheese
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 15 oz. can tomato sauce, no salt added preferred
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 2 cups 2% mozzarella cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. Italian Seasoning

To Prepare the Squash:

  • Preheat oven to 375*
  • Cut squash in half.  Scrape out the seeds and pulp—just as you would a pumpkin. 
  • Place on foiled cookie sheet, cut side down.
  • Bake for 30-40 minutes.
  • Let cool (I laid the squash on their side to expose the cut sides) and then, using a fork, separate the flesh from the rind. 

Note: I made the squash a few days before to cut down the prep time on this.  I don't like meals that take an hour+ to prepare on weeknights.  It kept well in the refrigerator until I needed it for this meal.

Also, these jokers are really hard to cut.  Make sure you have a good knife—or chainsaw, whatever.  I read (of course, after I cut mine) that heating it in the oven for five minutes can make it easier.  Haven't tried it, but will next time.  


  • Preheat oven to 350*
  • Brown turkey over medium/high heat, drain when done
  • Turn heat down to medium and add garlic, stirring frequently for a few minutes
  • Add tomato sauce and tomato paste, stirring until well incorporated.
  • Add Italian seasoning, blending well. 
  • Remove from heat
  • In separate bowl, mix egg whites and container of cottage cheese
  • Spoon half the sauce/meat mix into a 9x13 baking dish.
  • Place squash on top, smoothing it out evenly over entire surface and flattening down as you go
  • Put all of the cottage cheese mixture over that
  • Top with remaining meat mix
  • Top with mozzarella cheese
  • Bake for approximately 35 minutes.  The cheesy edges should begin to brown just a bit.  
  • Let stand about 5-10 minutes after removing from oven

I really hope you enjoy this healthier alternative to the traditional pasta lasagna you're used to.  And if you have any more ideas for spaghetti squash, please share!  I'm kind of obsessed right now. 


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