If there’s one ingredient you don’t expect to pop up on the menu of the high-fat, low-carb ketogenic eating plan, it’s spaghetti. But spaghetti squash? Now that’s a different story.
The gourd, in season all winter long, has a light orange flesh with a subtly sweet flavor that, when cooked, turns into spaghetti-like strands with just the scrape of a fork.
“Spaghetti squash is such a great substitution for pasta and other high-carb foods,” says Kyndra Holley, the voice behind the uber-popular blog Peace, Love and Low Carb and author of the new Craveable Keto Cookbook.
This swap isn’t of the small-steps-that-add-up variety. Switching from pasta to spaghetti squash is like taking a whole different staircase: A cup of spaghetti squash has 41 calories and 10 grams of carbs per cup compared to spaghetti’s 221 calories and 43 grams of carbs per cup. And those stats are not the only reason that Holley loves it for making keto-friendly comfort foods.
“It adds a heartiness to dishes that might otherwise just leave you eating meat and sauce,” says Holley. “It has a neutral, slightly sweet flavor and absorbs the flavors of whatever it is paired with. It’s definitely a staple in our home.”
Here, she uses the squash as a base for a casserole-style dish flavored with enchilada-inspired seasonings such as chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Since meal planning is a key element of staying true to a keto eating plan, Holley designed this recipe with plenty of make-ahead potential: You can make the sauce up to two weeks ahead of time, and the finished dish will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
Keep reading to get the keto-friendly spaghetti squash recipe.
Beef enchilada stuffed spaghetti squash
Makes 6 servings
For the enchilada sauce
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp coconut flour
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp dried minced onions
1 tsp dried oregano leaves
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 cups chicken stock
For the spaghetti squash
1 large spaghetti squash
2 Tbsp olive oil
Sea salt and ground black pepper
2 Tbsp butter or ghee
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground beef
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1/4 cup sliced black olives
1 4 oz. can diced green chilies
1/4 cup full-fat sour cream
2 green onions, sliced
2 Tbsp torn fresh cilantro
1. Make the enchilada sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until it is soft and fragrant. Stir in the coconut flour until completely combined. Mix in the spices, salt, tomato sauce, tomato paste, vinegar, and stock.
2. Bring the enchilada sauce to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, to allow the flavors time to come together. (Use the sauce immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.)
3. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
4. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and, using a large spoon, scrape out the seeds. Place the squash halves cut side up on the lined baking sheet. Drizzle the squash with the olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Roast for 45 minutes, until the squash is tender and shreds easily. When the squash is done, rake a fork over the shreds to loosen them.
5. While the spaghetti squash is roasting, prepare the filling: Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent and the garlic is fragrant.
6. Add the ground beef to the skillet and cook until it is browned all the way through. Drain the excess grease from the pan. Pour one cup of the enchilada sauce into the skillet and stir to combine with the meat mixture.
7. Pour a half cup of the remaining enchilada sauce over each of the spaghetti squash halves. Using two forks, mix it in with the shreds. Top each squash half with one-fourth cup of the cheese.
8. Divide the meat mixture evenly between the spaghetti squash halves. Divide the remaining one cup of cheese between the squash halves.
9. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F and return the stuffed squash to the oven for an additional 15 minutes.
10. Remove the squash halves from the oven and top with the olives, chilies, sour cream, green onions, and cilantro.
11. Cut each squash half into thirds before serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to one week.
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