Saturday, January 31, 2015

Baked "Pasta" With A Super-Healthy Swap!

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I love baked pastas, especially this time of year when its so chilly (a balmy 18 degrees today!) and all I want is that ooey gooey comfort food. Still, I don't make them often because they tend to be carb bombs. When I do bake up a pasta I like to try to load it up with veggies in the sauce and other healthy ingredients like veggie-based pastas or even whole wheat varieties.

I decided to shake up my usual baked pasta recipe by swapping in spaghetti squash for the pasta and it was a huge hit! Check out the recipe below.

Baked Spaghetti Squash "Pasta"

1 large spaghetti squash
1 lb. ground turkey (or chicken or beef, whatever you like)
1 tbsp. Italian Seasoning (I like to use this variety from Penzeys)
1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce or make your own using my easy recipe and pack it full of veggies!
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
Salt & pepper


The first thing you'll want to do is roast the squash. The easiest method I've found is to slice it in half length-wise and put the halves cut-side down in a 13x9 baking dish. Then add about an inch of water and pop it in a preheated oven (350 degrees does the trick). Roast for about 45 minutes to an hour, the squash should be tender enough that you can easily poke a fork in the outer rind but not squishy.

Remove the squash from the oven and let it cool before handling it.  This is a great time to make the sauce. Whether you're making it from scratch or using your favorite jarred brand, go ahead and brown your meat first. Season well with salt and pepper while it cooks and drain off the fat before adding it to your marinara sauce. Stir well to combine and set aside in a large bowl while you deal with the squash.

Using a fork, gently scrape out the squash, it will come apart easily in "spaghetti"-like strands. Stir the cooked squash into the meat/marinara mixture and taste to make sure you don't need to add additional seasoning.

In a separate bowl mix together the ricotta cheese, a good pinch of salt and pepper. Lightly mist a 13x9 baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and pour in a layer of the squash/marinara/meat mixture, then dollop on the ricotta mixture and spread as evenly as you can. Repeat the layers until you're out of ingredients, ending with the marinara mixture on top.

Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella and breadcrumbs before finishing with the tbsp. of Italian seasoning on top. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes until the cheese is slightly browned on top and bubbling.

Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Click Here For The Printable Recipe

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