Be it carbs, gluten or calories – lots of people are trying to cut down on pasta, including my family. So, I’m always playing with recipes that give us all the familiar flavors we love without the pasta. This recipe became an instant family favorite. Even my youngest son, who insisted he didn’t like spaghetti squash was smitten. He asked for seconds and has requested I make it again!
This lasagna inspired dish boasts beautiful layers of succulent meat sauce and creamy cheesy goodness cradled in a hollowed spaghetti squash. I promise – you’ll never miss the pasta!
If spaghetti squash is new to you go here for cooking techniques and all the reasons to love this squash: Spaghetti Squash – The Pasta Proxy from Produce
Please note – the size of spaghetti squash can vary widely from one pound to more than five pounds. The smaller sizes are more likely to be found at farmer’s markets or in your own garden. In the grocery store you’re likely to find the larger ones. Any size squash will work with this recipe. The only difference being whether you cut one large squash in half to make two large “boats” that you’ll slice into servings or if you use smaller squash to make individual servings. This recipe is very forgiving so it’s all good!
Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Boats
Serves 6 normally or 4 obnoxiously
What You’ll Need:
- 1 large or 2 smaller spaghetti squash (about 5 pounds total)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion – diced
- 1 teaspoon garlic
- 1 lb. hamburger
- 1 teaspoon salt – or to taste
- 1 ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning – divided
- 1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
- 1 cup small curd cottage cheese
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese – the powdered stuff is fine
- 1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese – divided
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Use a heavy, sharp knife to cut the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place it cut side down in a roasting pan. You can add a little water and cover with foil if you like, but it’s not necessary. Cook for 30 to 55 minutes depending on size. The squash is done when it’s easily pierced with a knife. When it’s cooked, set it aside until cool enough to handle. Do you have a good sharp knife? Every kitchen should have one because it makes cutting things like this much safer. Victorinox 8 Inch Fibrox Pro Chef’s Knife
- Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook stirring frequently until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. (If you’re a good multi-tasker you can start the cheese layer while this cooks.) Add the garlic and stir just until fragrant. Add the ground beef, the salt and one teaspoon Italian seasoning. Cook until browned, breaking up into small crumbles. Drain excess fat. Add the tomato sauce, stir to combine. Turn the heat down to low and let this simmer.
- Next, we make the cheesy layer. In a small food processor or mixing bowl with hand mixer, blend together the cottage cheese, egg, Parmesan and about half the mozzarella and half teaspoon Italian seasoning. Don’t burn the meat mixture and don’t forget the squash. I can see you.
- When the spaghetti squash is cool enough to handle; carefully use a fork to shred and remove the inside of the squash to make a boat. Be sure to leave about an inch of squash all around in the shell. Try not to poke through the shell or your lasagna innards will spill out when it bakes.
- Mix the shredded squash you remove into the meat mixture. This is getting so good!!!
- Back in your baking pan (clean it out if it’s messy) arrange the squash halves like bowls. This next step depends on whether you used 2 small or 1 large squash. You can figure this out, it’s layers. You can’t mess this up.
- Take half of the meat and mixture divide it between the bottoms of each shell.
- Take half the cheesy layer and spoon it over the meat, dividing between the shells.
- Repeat the meat layer using the remaining meat mixture. It’s possible you’ll have too much of the meat mixture so be sure to leave room for the last cheesy layer.
- Top with the remaining cheese layer . . . dividing evenly . . .you get it.
Diva Tip – You may have more filling than you can use in the boats. Don’t cry, we should all have such problems. You can bake it in a ramekin or custard cup, add it to an omelette, use it to fill a tortilla, or just eat it with a spoon.
Sprinkle the tops of the filled shells with the remaining cup of mozzarella.
Diva Tip – Make now – bake later! At this point this dish can be covered and refrigerated for up to two days. Just add 15 minutes to the cooking time if it’s coming right out of the fridge.
Bake at 400°F for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and browned. If you like your cheese more browned, place the squash under the broiler for a minute or two. Serve immediately.
When I make this my kids are drawn into the kitchen by the tantalizing aroma of onion, garlic and beef cooking and the squash caramelizing in the oven. It really hits all the same points as lasagna. It’s warm and cozy yet light at the same time! Maybe this is what modern comfort food is all about?