Sunday, February 9, 2014

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

You know what’s totally changing my life right now? Spaghetti squash. That sh*t is amazing. It’s like eating pasta, but it’s not pasta at all! Your mouth gets all the guilty pleasure of eating carbs without all the side effects, because you’re really eating lots of delicious veg and fiber. My new favorite way to enjoy it is in this “lasagna” dish that has all the trappings of a traditional lasagna. It’s a great option for those of you tired of the zucchini slivers subbed in for noodles, bonus points for being gluten free and it’s damn near paleo (gotta have cheese on lasagna, that part is non-negotiable).

Spaghetti Squash Lasagna

one (approx. 4lb) spaghetti squash
¾  lbs lean ground beef
1 (14.5 oz) can crushed tomatoes (I like the Muir Glen fire roasted)
enough olive oil to saute the onion and garlic (a little less than a tablespoon should do)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
.5 tsp crushed red pepper
.5 tsp fennel seed
2 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
¾ cup shredded parmesan, Parrano, asiago or similar
1 cup thinly sliced mozzarella, preferably water packed (e.g., Belfiore)*

1. Pre-heat oven to 375º, wash the squash, cut in half and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash halves cut side down on a baking sheet that has been coated with cooking spray. Bake for about 45 minutes or until just tender.

2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium pot, saute the onion and garlic until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook until brown, about 7 minutes. Stir in the spices and cook about 2 more minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and red wine vinegar. You can add a pinch of sugar if you like a little sweetness. 

3. Bring the sauce to a simmer, stir well and cover, reduce heat. Let simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. For a more reduced sauce, cook an extra 10 minutes on a low simmer without the lid.

4. When squash is ready, let it cool for about 10 minutes or until it’s cool enough to touch. Leave the oven at 375º. Scoop out about ¾ of the squash filling and set aside. Place the squash shells in a casserole or baking dish (coated with cooking spray, in case they overflow while cooking) before filling them. 

5. Begin the layering process in this order: For each half, spoon in a layer of sauce, then mozzarella slices, then the scooped squash, then meat sauce, then grated parmesan. 

6. Place the lasagna in the oven at 375º for about 30 minutes--cheese should be brown and sauce bubbly. Each half-squash can be divided into two servings.

*For the mozzarella, I think that this fresh, water packed style of cheese gives some nice texture to the lasagna layers (think cheese curds, but softer and meltier); if you can't find that, a regular mozzarella would work just fine, although you might want to grate it instead of slice it.

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