Creamy Spaghetti Squash Carbonara

This recipe is a keeper! I have made it numerous times, playing with the ingredients to get various creations, but they all have the same base, and are all delicious. And cooking a spaghetti squash in the crockpot like this is genius - so very simple to cut and scoop - no wrestling matches or risky big knife manouvers required.

The basic recipe takes only 2 minutes to start, about 15 minutes of attention after about 3 hours, then is ready to eat at about the 4 hour mark. This varies depending on the size of your spaghetti squash, but I alway go for the biggest one, since I usually dish this up into glass storage containers to be my lunches for the coming week.

The basic recipe:

1 spaghetti squash (big one, but make sure it fits in your crock pot)

1 cup water

1/2 lb bacon

2-3 cups of fresh or frozen green, low carb veggies (snap peas, spinach, kale, asparagus, green beans, be creative!)

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper, or to taste

1 tsp oregano

4 oz cream cheese, full fat

1/2 - 1 cup grated Parmesan

Wash the outside of the squash and place into the crockpot with the water. Turn on high and walk away for 2.5-3 hours. Check that the squash is cooked by poking with a fork. If you overcook it, it's still delicious, but it won't hold its shape in strands, becoming rather pudding-like instead. Remove squash to a large cutting board, cut in half lengthways and let sit to cool somewhat.

While the squash is cooling, cut the bacon into small pieces and fry up until almost crispy. Keep the fat in the pan - you will add it to the casserole for additional flavour.

Shred the strands of squash using a fork (and oven mitts or tongs to keep from burning yourself) and add them back into the water in the crockpot. Chop the vegetable into bitesized pieces and add them as well, with the seasoning and the cream cheese, chopped into chunks. Cook on high for another hour or so, stirring once or twice to ensure the cream cheese melts into a nice creamy sauce to coat the vegetables and squash strands. About half way through the last hour, add the Parmesan and stir up to coat all the other ingredients. Cook until veggies are al dente and the cheeses melted into gooey goodness. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with additional Parmesan sprinkled on top - delicioso!!

So, I have tried several variations on the theme and they are equally delicious. The first was to swap out the bacon for a large 418g can of good Pacific red Sockeye salmon (two regular 213g (7 oz) cans would work, of course - I just found the big cans on a smokin' good sale). Leave skin and bones in for bonus points, but I usually prefer to take most of that stuff out. I used a pound of fresh asparagus, cut into 3/4" pieces as my green veg and it went together well.

Today, I made it again and went back to bacon, but this time used about half a bag of fresh chopped kale and another cup or so of chopped snap peas. And my recent cool find was grated Asiago cheese at my local Bulk Barn, so I replaced the Parmesan with Asiago. It's nice too, but I think that I like the stronger bite of the Parmesan.

This makes 5-6 large bowls of cheesy "pasta" heaven. The nutritional profile will vary depending on the size of the squash, amount of bacon, cheese, which veggie you choose, etc, but on average, a bowl will be about 325 kcals and about 23 g net carbs. And a decent 175 mg of calcium. The salmon version will have even more calcium if you let some of the little bones remain in the mix.

Low carb comfort food - what could be better!

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