Recipes for a Low Carb Keto Lifestyle
The cooler temperatures of Fall seem to cry out for those robust, hearty flavors in our dishes, but this favorite season also begs for dishes that show off the autumnal color palate. A hearty Italian ragu sauce coupled with golden buttery squash speaks to the robust flavor profile, as well as the visual yearning for the beautiful fall colors. Ragus are typically combined with pasta, but the substitution of spaghetti squash for pasta makes this a perfect dish adapted to a Slow Carb, or Low Carb Keto lifestyle.
I’ve been smoking my tomatoes in the Bradley Smoker that my husband gave me last year for my birthday. Tomatoes are allowed on a low carb keto lifestyle, but smoking them just ups the flavor profile a bit.
After they are smoked I place them in a freezer bag and freeze them to use in sauces over the winter. It is so wonderful to thaw out that bag and smell the rich aroma of smoked tomatoes. They don’t seem to lose any of the smokiness in the freezing process. This year I am also taking the smoked tomatoes and preserving them with sugar and vinegar as a “shrub syrup”.
The Ragu recipe below uses the smoked tomatoes straight from the freezer. You can use regular canned or fresh tomatoes instead of course, and it is still wonderful. If you want to add the smoky flavor without the smoked tomatoes, I would try adding a little smoked sea salt or even some liquid smoke. It is a wonderful dish however, even without the smoke!
Pork Ragu & Spaghetti Squash for a Keto Lifestyle (a recipe)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 cups chopped (and seeded) sweet red bell pepper
- 1 1/2 lb ground pork or Italian sausage (I used a mix of sweet and hot Italian sausage)
- 2 cups smoked tomatoes with juice (or 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes)
- 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp sugar (leave out if on slow carb diet)
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp smoked sea salt (optional: if using, decrease amount of kosher salt to 1/2 tsp)
- 1 medium spaghetti squash
- Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Either roast in 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes or cook in the microwave for about 10 minutes. If roasting, brush the tops of the squash with a little oil so it doesn’t dry out. If microwaving, I just turn the squash flesh-side-down on a plate and microwave for 10-12 minutes. Click here for a more detailed way of cooking it in the microwave. Either way, just cook until it is tender enough to easily stick a fork in it. Leave it in the microwave or oven until ragu is done.
- While the squash is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 3-5 minutes, or until translucent. Add the garlic and cook quickly (30 seconds). Add the bell pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Increase the heat to medium high and add the ground pork. If using Italian sausage, cut the casings open and spread out the sausage throughout the pan, chopping it with your spatula to break it up. Cook until the pork is browned, about 5 minutes
- Add the crushed tomatoes (or smoked tomatoes), balsamic vinegar, salt and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for anywhere from 15 minutes to 30 minutes (depending on how hungry you are)
- Scrape out the flesh of the spaghetti squash with a fork or spoon onto a plate (use a potholder to hold the squash if it is still hot). Spoon the ragu sauce over the squash or serve the squash on the side with plenty of butter and salt and pepper.
I like to call this the Low Carb Hamburger Helper 🙂 It’s really quick and easy but much better than the Hamburger Helper I grew up on! Perfect for the Quick and Easy weekdays of a low carb keto lifestyle.