A healthy, yet hearty, alternative to regular lasagna
I don’t think I’ve met a squash that I dislike. Whether it be a squash of a summer nature, such as zucchini, or a winter squash, such as butternut, I love them all. Each of them has its own delicious qualities. What I especially love about spaghetti squash is its versatile nature. Prepare it in its shell and serve a dish as a squash bake. Remove the squash with a fork, and turn it into a healthy bowl of “pasta”. For this recipe it creates a fine fake noodle layer in a lasagna with all of the vegetarian fillings: ricotta, spinach, mozzarella, and parmesan. Not a 100% healthy meal, but definitely healthy-ish.
To learn more about this recipe, originally posted in November 2016, keep reading.
With only my husband and me at home, we don’t cook a lot of pasta. In fact, I don’t think we’ve made any pasta since our daughter headed to college. I don’t imagine we’ll cook any until we have kids home for holiday break. Of course, that doesn’t mean that we’ve ceased cooking Italian food. We just do it differently.
Lasagna is one of those dishes that I usually save for the holidays for a number of reasons. It takes a good amount of time to make the dish: cooking the noodles, browning the meat, and baking the large pan. Plus, it’s a pretty indulgent dish with the layers of noodles, copious amounts of ricotta and mozzarella, and sausage filling. So, I save it for Christmas or Easter, although that doesn’t mean that we don’t crave it at other times of the year.
To make this dish more fitting for a weekday dinner I made a number of changes. First, I used spaghetti squash instead of pasta. Second, I eliminated the meat and replaced it with cooked spinach. Third, I used reduced fat ricotta, which although slightly less unctuous also has a lot fewer calories (worth the tradeoff to my mind). Finally, I made them in mini loaf pans, which decreased the baking time by half.
If you are going to make these as a weeknight dinner, I do recommend cooking the spaghetti squash in advance, or it will make cooking time quite long. Another option is to make them on the weekend and reheat them on the desired night. Either way these mini lasagnas make a hearty and healthy dinner.
- 15 oz. fat free ricotta
- 1 egg white
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 2 cups shredded mozzarella, divided
- 1 spaghetti squash, cooked
- Pasta sauce
- 10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed & drained
- Combine ricotta, egg white, basil, garlic powder, and 1 cup of mozzarella; stir well.
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Spray 4 mini loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray.
- Coat the bottom of each with a couple tablespoons of pasta sauce.
- Layer 1: 1/4 cup spaghetti squash in pan, spread evenly.
- Layer 2: 1/4 of ricotta mixture.
- Layer 3: 1/4 cup spaghetti squash.
- Layer 4: 1/4 of spinach and 1/4 cup of pasta sauce.
- Layer 5: 1/4 cup spaghetti squash.
- Layer 6: Thin layer of pasta sauce.*
- Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove from oven and top with 1/4 cup mozzarella; return to oven for 10 minutes or until cheese melts.
- If not serving immediately, cover and refrigerate at this point. Bake following the remaining directions.