Unlike many of the winter squash varieties, spaghetti squash does not pack in the carbs and sugar. It has long made a good foil for substitutions for pasta dishes. A baked lasagna made with spaghetti squash, aka low carb keto lasagna, is every bit as filling and tasty as a classic pasta lasagna. Watch out for sugary tomato-based pasta sauces however. Try this one with diced tomatoes for less sugar.
Spaghetti Squash vs. Zucchini Noodles for the “pasta”
Some low carb keto lasagna recipes use zucchini noodles rather than spaghetti squash but I think spaghetti squash is not only tastier, but also easier. It does have to bake in the oven for about an hour but that is hands free. I’ve just never gotten into the spiralizing craze and maybe that’s why I think it’s easier.
Spaghetti squash doesn’t take any specialized equipment, just stick it on a baking sheet and turn the oven on 350 for an hour (you can also turn it upside down on a plate and microwave). If you do this part of the recipe a day ahead you can just keep it covered in the refrigerator (whole or scraped out strands) until you are ready to make the lasagna.
You do have to scrape the seeds out of the squash before baking and you do have to scrape the strands out of the squash when it has cooled, both of which take a bit of muscle.
The other nice thing about spaghetti squash is that you can buy it at the store or the farmers’ market and keep it on your counter until you are ready to use it. Zucchini doesn’t have nearly the shelf life and should really be kept in the fridge if you are going to wait to cook it. I never really know when I am going to get to a certain dish so the fact that I can just look at that spaghetti squash for weeks until I inspired to use it is a bonus.
I grow both zucchini and spaghetti squash on the farm and personally think spaghetti squash has more flavor than zucchini. The flavor and texture differences are going to boil down to your own tastebuds. They both have much more nutrition than pasta and the carbs, sugar and calories are pretty comparable. So…..the bottom line is either one is a great alternative for pasta in a low carb keto lasagna!
Is Low Carb Keto Lasagna Quick & Easy to Make?
Well, it’s a heck of a lot easier than classic lasagna (and tastes just as good if not better). Since I started coaching 4 years ago, I’ve seen that it is a huge challenge for people to cook whole food these days. People are either too busy with families and careers or they never really learned how to cook so it is a bit intimidating. My goal is to make it as easy, painless and quick as possible.
This recipe, therefore, uses canned tomatoes, garlic from a jar, and a minimum of equipment. If you want to chop up fresh garlic and make your sauce with fresh tomatoes, it “might” taste better, but the jury is still out on that.
Like I said earlier, the spaghetti squash does take some time to bake so do it ahead, and it takes some muscle to cut in half and de-seed. The rest of it is really just hamburger helper with a layer of cheese.
Recipe for Low Carb Keto Lasagna
Serves: 4 – 6
- 1 large spaghetti squash (or two small) *a large one will weigh 4-5 lbs.
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 lb ground pork (can substitute hamburger, sausage, ground chicken or any ground protein)
- 1 tsp minced garlic (from jar – alternatively mince 2-3 fresh garlic cloves)
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1-2 tsp chili spice (I used our smoked chipotle spice but use your favorite)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes
- 1 cup ricotta
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan (I used freshly grated parmesan but it isn’t necessary)
- 1 egg
Directions for the squash (can be done ahead)
- Preheat oven to 350 (or just use microwave).
- With a large, sharp knife, cut the spaghetti squash in half. With a strong spoon, scoop out the seeds. Then, if using the oven, lay the squash flesh-side down on a baking sheet and bake for about an hour (flesh will be soft and easy to penetrate with a fork). If using the microwave place the squash flesh side down on a plate and microwave about 20 minutes (or until soft)
- Let the squash cool so you can handle them and then take a fork and rake the flesh into a bowl. It will come out in strands….like spaghetti! Set the empty squash shells aside and save for later use as a baking “vessel” if you want.
- Cover the bowl of strands and put in the refrigerator to use when ready.
Directions for the Lasagna:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- In a large skillet, saute the onion in oil over med high heat for around 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add the ground pork to the pan and saute with the onions until no longer pink. When meat is no longer pink, add the garlic, spices and tomatoes.
- Turn the burner down to medium-low heat and let the meat sauce simmer about 10 minutes while you mix up the 2 cheeses and the egg in a medium sized bowl.
- Now you are ready to layer the lasagna. Put some meat sauce in the bottom of a glass baking pan or in the saved shells of the spaghetti squash. Then add a layer of the spaghetti squash on top of the meat sauce and then a layer of the cheese mixture. Add one more layer of the meat sauce and then top it off with little dollups of mozzarella cheese if using fresh or a layer of shredded mozzarella if using packaged.
- Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees. Let it sit for 5 minutes or so before serving so it can “set”.
** Add chopped up black olives and/or baby spinach for more taste and nutrition.
Nutrition: Serving size = 228 g
- calories: 396
- carbs: 10.4
- sugar: 3.1
- protein: 26.6 g
- fat: 27 g
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I have followed the slow carb diet for 2 years, the keto diet for 1 year and now do a nuanced version of the best of both including a 16/8 intermittent fasting protocol. I have put my “been there done that” knowledge to work helping people figure it out and customize the approach that works for them. I am currently an online fitness coach (info can be found here if you’re interested), and have just hit the 325-client mark. Come and visit me and see if online coaching might be for you!
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