Spaghetti (Squash) Carbonara – Now That’s Amore

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I’ve never met an Italian meal that I didn’t like. OK, love is probably a more accurate description of my feelings. Cheesy, pasta-y goodness. True Italians have family recipes for their signature dishes that have been handed down for years. Even if the dish goes by the same name, there are slight variations of secret ingredients so they are all unique.

One of my bucket list vacations is to take a trip through Italy and try tiramisu in every place I come to, compare and take notes on each bite. Can you imagine the taste bud joy? Any self respecting Italian restaurant has spaghetti carbonara on the menu. If you haven’t had it, it is a warm delicious dish of pasta with cheese, bacon, eggs, and sometimes broccoli or peas.

It’s so good but you can imagine what kind of calorie and fat bomb might be lurking on that fine china. I love using spaghetti squash as a pasta substitute so I set about to create a version of spaghetti carbonara that came close to the flavors in the real thing. I think I did pretty good for a first time. The flavors were all there but the entire overflowing bowlful was only 258 calories.

Yes, you read that correctly. I bought a small squash this past weekend for the occasion. The ham I used instead of bacon was Walmart’s Great Value brand from the sliced meat section. I got the black forest ham version that is 60 calories per serving. I even used real egg in my version.

Since everyone’s taste is different and the sliced meat has salt, I recommend bringing the salt shaker to the table and letting everyone add as much or little as they like after tasting.

Spaghetti CarbonaraSpaghetti (Squash) Carbonara

  • 8 cups cooked spaghetti squash
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 8 oz sliced ham
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Here’s a link to instructions on how I cook my spaghetti and butternut squashes. Prick the skin of the spaghetti squash several times with a fork to pierce it. Place it in a baking dish and cook at 350 degrees for an hour.

I usually don’t bother preheating the oven so save yourself a few cents in electricity or gas. It’s not necessary. This is a great time to multi-task like walk the dog while the squash cooks.

Remove the squash from the oven and cool a bit until it is cool enough to handle. Slice the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds from the center. Shred the “meat” of the squash with a fork into strands like spaghetti. One squash (even a smaller one) makes tons of spaghetti.

You’ll use about 8 cups of squash for this entire recipe. If you are really watching your calories (like I do in prep), I used 200g of squash per serving. During non-contest prep times, I just eyeball things instead of breaking out the food scale. I’m including that as an option so you can choose.

Toss the 8 cups of cooked squash with the garlic powder and set aside while you prepare the rest. Place the peas in a microwave safe dish and cook according to directions. I used fresh peas from the farmer’s market and mine took 2 minutes to cook. Slice the ham into small, bite sized squares while the peas are cooking.

Spray a skillet with non-stick spray and “fry” the eggs. I made mine over easy so the whites were completely cooked and the yolks were just very slightly runny when pricked. You can cook them as much or little as you prefer. Toss the squash with the peas and the ham squares and divide evenly into 4 bowls.

Top each bowl with an egg and enjoy. Makes 4 servings of 2 cups squash, 1/4 cup peas, 2 oz ham, and one whole egg at 258 calories each – 20g protein, 22g carbs, and 10g fat. I smooshed up my egg into the mix after taking the picture. I love to just mix it right in like the “real” carbonara version.

I had a lot of squash leftover so that I could top with tomato sauce and use just like spaghetti. Here’s a great sauce recipe to use or you could also toss it in pesto! I just throw the leftovers in a large plastic container and heat it up when I’m ready to use it.

Do you love Italian food? Have a secret family recipe?

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