Meatless Monday: Spaghetti Squash alla Low-Carb-onara

We love the challenge every Meatless Monday of making an enlightened vegetarian dish out of a traditional meat dish. So, it was inevitable that we would revamp the classic pantry standby dish – Spaghetti alla Carbonara.

The Anne half of Team Triple-F needs to avoid gluten, but rather than simply replacing the semolina flour-powered spaghetti with another grain-based wheat pasta substitute, we thought we’d use spaghetti squash instead, making it low-carb to boot as a bonus (not to mention even more nutritious). Then all we did was replace the bacon with a vegetarian “bacon.”

This is Anne’s recipe, but Donna worked on it as well. Donna’s first batch of squash had to be thrown out – it was a soggy, overcooked mess. Donna *highly* recommends cooking the squash at 400 degrees for exactly 30 minutes. Exactly. Any less and the squash will be too tough, and any more and the squash will be a watery soggy mess.

Only seven ingredients, not counting S & P

Only seven ingredients, not counting S & P

Using a fork helps keep the squash stringy

Using a fork helps keep the squash “stringy”


45 minutes total time – Serves 4 as an entree

1 large spaghetti squash
5 ounces vegetarian bacon, such as Morningstar Farms or Smart Bacon
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten with a fork
4 ounces grated Parmesan, Asiago or Pecorino Romano cheese(s), or a combination of these
2 garlic cloves, pressed
3 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, scoop out strings and seeds, then place cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake for EXACTLY 30 minutes, no more. (If overcooked, the squash becomes far too moist and even mushy; the egg will not properly cling to individual squash strands.) While squash is baking, whisk together the eggs, cheese(s), garlic and parsley. Set aside.

Mince vegetarian bacon. Heat oil in a skillet to medium high heat and cook “bacon” bits until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Remove “bacon” bits from pan. Return pan to heat and deglaze pan with vinegar. Add vinegar mixture to egg mixture.

When squash is done, remove from oven. With an oven mitt in one hand holding the squash, remove flesh of squash with a large fork, shredded so that squash flesh is in long strands. Work quickly so squash strands are still hot. Toss squash strands with egg mixture, then toss in “bacon” bits. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Other adventurous souls who have made a veggie version of carbonara:
Mushroom Carbonara Sauce, Raspberry Eggplant
Asparagus and Truffle Carbonara, Eat Like a Girl
Soy Bacon Carbonara, Tofu for Two

–posted by Donna and Anne



  1. says

    Drop whole asparagus spears into boiling water and cook for no more than 3 minutes. IMMEDIATELY immerse cooked asparagus into a bowl of ice water. Let sit for at least 10 minutes. This will stop the cooking process and make your asparagus stay a bright and yummy green.

    Arrange asparagus spears on a platter (I like to use an oblong platter and fill it with asparagus). Garnish with halved red grape tomatoes and sprinkle a few sliced almonds on top. Lightly drizzle with a Caesar-type salad dressing and serve cold.

  2. says

    Leah – I know it sounds strange, but you DON’T saute the garlic first, as you do in most recipes – you just press it with a garlic press and stir it into the egg mixture. When you add it this way, the garlic is warmed by the heat of the squash but keeps its strong and pungent flavor. This is the approach recommended by Cooks Illustrated. I like this approach, but you can saute it if you want a mellower garlic taste.

    We are happy that everyone is enjoying spaghetti squash!


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