Saturday, October 24, 2009

Spaghetti Squash "Lasagna" Casserole

Spaghetti squash is a Fall/Winter season squash and the cooked flesh is stringy like a pasta noodle. Many recipes with spaghetti squash morph it into a pasta-like dish with tomato sauce, Italian herbs, and Parmesan cheese. You can even form cooked squash stands into patties and make them into savory pancakes.

The squash is packed with nutrition: folic acid, beta carotene, and heart healthy potassium. And you can eat a lot of the squash because it's a low calorie food (8 ounces of cooked squash is 75 calories). Spaghetti squash has a mild, delicate flavor that is perfect for pairing with strong flavors.

This morning, I was inspired to make my spaghetti squash into my nutritious lunch. I love the combination of the tiny strands with tomato sauce and decided to make a squash lasagna casserole. This healthy meal is very affordable. I buy my part-skim ricotta cheese from Trader Joe's and it's antibiotic free and around $2.99 for 16 oz.

Cooking spaghetti squash:
  • Use a heavy chef knif to cut squash lengthwise. Using a spoon, scrape the loose membranes and seeds. Discard or save seeds for future use.
  • Fill a large casserole dish with 1/2 inch water. Place halves face down in the dish.
  • Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 1 hr, until the squash is tender.
  • Let cool.
  • Scrape the cooked squash with a fork to release the noodle-like flesh.
Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash, cooked and shredded (see above)
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • 1 tbs minced garlic
  • 1 tsp dried Italian spice mix
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1-14 oz can tomato sauce
  • 8 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 tbs panko bread crumbs
  • Chopped parsley or basil for garnish on top
  • In a pre-heated medium skillet, add olive oil, chopped onions, and garlic. Cook for 3 minutes until the onions are tender. Add cooked squash, Italian herbs, and salt/pepper, and stir to coat with olive oil.
  • Spay a casserole dish with cooking oil. Add squash mixture to casserole and spread in an even layer. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Add tomato sauce.
  • Dollop ricotta cheese evenly
  • Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
  • Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

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