Recently I’ve undertaken the task of cooking more nutrient-dense dinners for my family. We don’t have a problem with the classics but any opportunity to increase the health benefits of a meal is welcome. The cold weather has given us a taste for comfort foods, making a warm and cheesy lasagna dish a great choice for experimentation. Replacing whole wheat lasagna with spaghetti squash cuts down on carbs (now you don’t have to feel guilty about that extra slice of garlic bread on the side) and gives you a little extra boost of nutrients such as vitamin C, which comes in handy this time of year. To top it all off, this recipe is grown-up AND toddler approved.
What you’ll need:
- 1 Medium Spaghetti Squash
- 1 Lb of Ground Meat (e.g., beef, bison, chicken, etc.)
- Pasta Sauce (Approximately 25 oz)
- 1 Cup Spinach (or other greens)
- Fresh Basil, to Taste
- 8-12 oz Shredded Cheeses (Mozzerella, Parmesan, etc.)
- 16 oz Ricotta Cheese
- 3 Eggs
- Pinch or Two of Salt
- Black Pepper, to Taste
- 1 Onion
- 1-2 Bell Peppers, any variety
- 3 Cloves of Garlic
- 1 large Tomato, Diced
Prepare the Spaghetti Squash
Step 1: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 2: Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
Step 3: Drizzle each half with olive oil and lightly season with salt.
Step 4: Place each side face down on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for approximately 45 minutes, then let cool. The outside of the squash should give slightly when ready.
Step 5: Scrape the inside of the spaghetti squash into a large bowl. With a paper towel, squeeze out, remove and dispose of as much excess moisture as possible. Add a pinch of salt, pepper, and three eggs to the bowl with the squash. Mix thoroughly.
Making the Lasagna
Step 1: Preheat oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 2: In a deep skillet, cook ground meat over medium-high heat until browned. Transfer your meat to another container for later use and leave some of the juices in the pan.
Step 3: In the same skillet, start your onion on medium to medium-high heat and cook for approximately 5 minutes, then add peppers and garlic. Cook until peppers have softened and slightly browned, about 10 minutes.
Step 4: Lightly oil your 9 x 13 baking dish and layer the bottom with some of the pasta sauce.
Step 5: Transfer half of the prepared spaghetti squash to your baking dish.
Step 6: Layer half of your caramelized onion mixture, all of your meat, all of your diced tomato, all of your spinach and basil, half of your sauce, half of your ricotta cheese, and a light sprinkling of your shredded cheese blend over the spaghetti squash.
Step 7: Add your remaining spaghetti squash to the dish and cover with the remaining sauce and ricotta cheese. Top with remaining shredded cheese blend.
Step 8: Bake for about an hour until mixture is set and
-Cooking times can vary with different ovens so be sure to keep an eye on your meal.
-If cheese is getting too done, cover with foil for the remainder of the cooking time.
-Water from the squash can cause the lasagna to not set properly, which is why it is important to remove excess moisture beforehand. You can also try letting it drain in a colander, just be sure the holes are small enough that your squash strands don’t try to escape.
-As a remedy for picky toddlers, I have found that finely dicing ingredients like onions, peppers, and spinach makes my child less likely to decline to eat his meal.