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Full of flavor these lasagna-stuffed spaghetti squash are a healthy, low carb, vegetarian and gluten-free way to enjoy Italian food without all of the calories. This is a tasty recipe that doesn’t take a lot of effort, so it is easy enough to make for Meatless Monday or any day of the week.
Spaghetti squash is really odd to me. I have used spaghetti squash before when making the spaghetti squash casserole, but it has been a while. I had forgotten that they smell almost like a pumpkin raw. There is a good reason for that, spaghetti squash and pumpkins come from the same plant family called the Cucurbitaceae family. This plant family consists of over 965 different types of squash, zucchini, gourds, and pumpkin.
Just so you know, a cup of spaghetti pasta is typically around 200 calories, while a cup of spaghetti squash only has around 30 calories. I quickly forget how odd I think spaghetti squash are when I remember how few calories they have.
Prepare the Squash:
The seeds and pulp inside a spaghetti squash resemble what you find inside a pumpkin. Fortunately, there are a lot fewer seeds and pulp to remove than a pumpkin. Cutting the squash completely open helps to remove the seeds.
To prepare the spaghetti squash, use a large sharp knife to cut the squash in half lengthwise.
Easily remove the seeds and pulp, by scraping them out with a big spoon.
According to Alton Brown, you should always sit down and read a recipe all the way through before doing anything else. I have to admit I committed the ultimate cooking sin, by not reading the original recipe all the way through before I began. Needless to say, I was shocked to find out the spaghetti squash would cook in the microwave!
Except for popping popcorn and warming things up, I NEVER cook anything inside the microwave. Little did I know that cooking the squash in the microwave is a major time saver. This meant I could make the homemade marinara sauce could be made while the squash was cooking. I really lucked out, not reading a recipe is not always a good thing!
How To Cook Spaghetti Squash In A Microwave:
To cook the spaghetti squash in a microwave, place the spaghetti squash inside the microwave cut side down on top of a sheet of parchment paper. Cook on high for about 10 minutes. You may only be able to fit two halves of the spaghetti squash at a time. If not, you’ll do two batches. If you can fit all four halves in the microwave at one time, go for it!
A word of caution when handling the hot squash:
I found that the squash is not that easy to grab and take out of the microwave, especially over the stove like the microwave in our kitchen. The outside of the squash is a little slippery and that the bottom is filled with trapped steam. I found the best way to remove them from the microwave was to use a large spatula to flip them over before trying to take them out. Turning them over first allows most of the trapped steam to escape. This will save your hands and wrist from being burned when trying to take the squash out of the microwave.
While the squash was cooking I made a homemade mushroom marinara sauce. Feel free to buy a jar of prepared marinara from the store if you have one you really like. I like making my own so that I can control the ingredients and what goes into it myself.
Assemble The Lasagna-Stuffed Spaghetti Squash:
When the marinara and the last two squash halves were done, turn the oven broiler on high. Place the squash halves onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Season the squash with a generous amount of salt and pepper.
Using a fork, fluff the strands leaving them inside the squash. Top the squash with equal portions of parmesan and ricotta cheese.
When the marinara is ready, using a large spoon fill each squash with marinara sauce. Top the marinara sauce with shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Next, sprinkle each squash with a little oregano. Place the sheet pan of squash under the broiler. Cook until the cheese is melted, bubbling, and golden brown; about 5 minutes.
At the end of the thirty minutes, and without much effort at all, the whole house smelled like an Italian restaurant. The hardest part is waiting for the lasagna-stuffed spaghetti squash to cool a little before eating them!
Lasagna-Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
- 2 small spaghetti squash (1-pound total about 10 ounces each)
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 cup fat-free ricotta cheese
- ½ cup parmesan cheese
- 3 ounces part-skim mozzarella shredded
Prepared Marinara Sauce
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 8 ounces portobello mushrooms chopped
- 2 ¼ cup crushed tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano + extra for topping cheese
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- Using a large knife, cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Scrape the seeds out with a large spoon; 6discard the seeds.
- Place two of the squash halves inside the microwave, cut side down on a large piece of parchment paper. Cook on high until tender; about 9 to 11 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the marinara sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and a small pinch of salt, basil, and oregano. Sauté until the onions are tender and develop a bit of color; about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add in the mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms just begin to soften; about 5 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes. Simmer 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Place the rack in the middle position of the oven and preheat the broiler on high. Cover a large sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Season the squash halves with salt and pepper. Using a fork, fluff the squash strands, leaving them in the squash. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta and half of the parmesan cheese; mix well. Divide the cheese mixture among the squash. Top with the marinara sauce, then the mozzarella and the other half of the parmesan cheese, then sprinkle with oregano (optional). Broil on high, until the filling is heated through and the top is golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.