Why in the world would you make lasagna without noodles?!?
Just because the word “spaghetti” comes before the word “squash”, you think you can substitute it in my favorite Italian dish?
Is it even legal to call something “lasagna” if it has no noodles?!?
Are you going to try to tell me it takes just like lasagna when there are no noodles?!?
Yes. I can read your mind. By the way … did you know your mind sounds an awful lot like my husband’s voice???
Why would anyone make lasagna without noodles? For those who have to eliminate or limit gluten from their diet, finding creative substitutions has become a mission. For those who are dedicated to eating healthy, choosing to eat more nutrient-dense foods is a big part of their success. For those who have a big garden and cannot give away enough spaghetti squash, it is a necessity to find creative ways to use it up!
Don’t get me wrong, it does not taste “just like lasagna”. The spaghetti squash “noodles” have a different texture and taste. But when you combine them with Italian seasonings, garlic, tomatoes, Italian sausage, and cheese … and understand that you have greatly reduced the carbs and calories by making this substitution … you might be surprised at how much you like it and how good you feel.
First, you have to know how to prepare the spaghetti squash “noodles”.
Preheat oven to 350°. Cut one spaghetti squash in half length-wise. Scoop out the seeds. Sprinkle cut sides with salt and pepper. Pour enough water into a 9″x13″ baking pan for it to reach 1/2″ up the side. Place the squash halves, cut-side down, in the water and cover pan with aluminum foil. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Squash is ready if it “gives” under a little pressure from your finger when you push down on the skin side. Remove from oven and remove foil (be careful … steam will escape as you take off the foil). Turn the squash halves over and allow to cool until easy to handle.
Pour off the water and bring in the kids … this step is fun! Take a fork, turn it over so the prongs point down, and drag the fork across the inside of the squash. The “noodles” will separate as you drag the fork gently through the squash. Keep scraping the squash until only the skin is left.
The squash I used for these pictures was about 10″ long and 5″ in diameter. It produced 6 cups of “noodles”.
At this point, you can use the “noodles” any way you want. Drizzle with olive oil and add crushed garlic, lemon juice and rind, and Parmesan cheese for a simple side dish. Stir it into soups (like Italian Vegetable Soup). Act like it’s Thanksgiving and drizzle melted butter over them, sprinkle them with brown sugar or maple syrup, add a few mini-marshmallows and slide under the broiler until warm and bubbly! Yeeee-uuummmm!
Got a bit off the “healthy” track there …
On to our pseudo-lasagna!
Spaghetti Squash Lasagna
3/4-1 pound Italian sausage
1/2 cup diced onion
6 cups spaghetti squash “noodles”
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
6-8 Roma tomatoes or 3-4 medium-sized tomatoes, sliced thin
1-2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (optional)
1 cup Parmesan cheese
Brown sausage with onion; drain.
Put the “noodles” in a large bowl, drizzle with olive oil and use a fork to toss in the garlic, parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper (if using).
Preheat oven to 350°.
Drizzle an 8″x11″ baking dish with olive oil and spread 2 cups of the squash on the bottom of the pan. Put a single layer of sliced tomatoes on top. Sprinkle 1/2 of the sausage on top of tomatoes and 1/3 of the cheese(s) on the sausage. Repeat all layers. Spread remaining 2 cups of squash on top and sprinkle with remaining cheese. (Yes I forgot to take pictures of the second layer of cheese and the third layer of squash … but you get the idea!)
Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes.
Warm marinara sauce in a pan on top of the stove over low to medium-low heat until hot.
Remove lasagna from oven. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Cut into pieces. Serve with marinara sauce.
NOTE: You can make this in any baking dish … round, square, rectangle, glass, metal, stone … just watch the baking time as pans of different sizes and materials will need to bake for different amounts of time.
We can argue about calling it “lasagna” if you want. It’s layered. It’s got Italian flavors. It can be as cheesy as you choose. It’s swimming in marinara sauce. If you still can’t concede and call it “lasagna”, then call it “Layered Italian Spaghetti Squash Casserole”.
Just call it “dinner”!
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