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Paleo Spaghetti Squash Pastitsio (Greek Baked Ziti w/ Bechamel Sauce)

This dreamy favorite is getting a dairy-, gluten-, grain-free makeover. Spaghetti squash makes for a low carb "pasta" dish and the cauliflower bechamel just might fool you!! (AIP-friendly)

Course Main Course
Cuisine Greek
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 537 kcal
Author Alison Marras

Ingredients

Spaghetti Squash ("Pasta") Layer

  • 2 small-medium spaghetti squash (you'll need approx. 4-5 cups cooked
  • 2 cups water

Ground Meat Layer

  • 2 Tbsp ghee or lard (lard for AIP)
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 8 oz. organic ground beef or lamb
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp ceylon cinnamon
  • 2 tsp tomato paste (omit for AIP)
  • 3 cloves garlic minced

Dairy-free Cauliflower Bechamel Sauce

  • 2 cups cauliflower steamed
  • 1 cup coconut cream*
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast**
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp arrowroot starch/flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Nutritional Yeast-Cinnamon Topping

  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1-2 tsp ceylon cinnamon
  • 1 pinch sea salt

Instructions

  1. Prep an 8 in. baking dish (glass, ceramic or enamel), whatever you'd use for a casserole for example. Grease it lightly with coconut oil and set aside. Pre-heat oven to 350f degrees.

Spaghetti Squash ("Pasta") Layer

  1. Start with the spaghetti squash. Cut the squash carefully, width-wise and scoop out the seeds.

  2. If using an Instant Pot, place the steamer grate inside the pot and pour in 1 cup of water. Add 1 squash at a time, close the lid and make sure the valve is closed on top. Set to "MANUAL" for 7 minutes, it will take a few minutes to heat up and then you'll see the countdown. Once done, you can quick release by carefully with an oven mitt, turning the top valve to release. Repeat for a 2nd squash unless you have a very large one that will give you around 4-5 cups of cooked squash.

    If not using an Instant Pot, place all of the squash on a baking sheet at 375f degrees for approx. 30-35 minutes facing up. You want cooked, but al dente squash, be careful to not over-cook.

    When done, set aside and let dry/cool (you don't need to fork out the squash yet).

Ground Meat Layer

  1. Chop onions small and set aside. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the ghee/lard, let it melt. Once melted, toss the onions in the pan and using a wooden spoon, stir around, let cook for 3-5 minutes until translucent and soft.

  2. Add ground meat and break up with your wooden spoon into small pieces, stirring with the onions. Sprinkle your seasonings over top and continue mixing. If using tomato paste, add in. Lastly, add the minced garlic so it doesn't burn. 

  3. Cook meat until the juices that release start to evaporate and no red meat remains. Taste the meat and season to your liking! When done, set aside.

Dairy-free Cauliflower Bechamel Sauce

  1. In a pot, steam cauliflower florets with boiling water until it's tender when pricked with a fork (approx. 8 mins.).

  2. Meanwhile, stir coconut CREAM (not milk) to make sure it hasn't separated from water. Add it to a saucepan over low heat. Next, add the nutritional yeast and stir around with a wooden spoon. 

  3. While that cooks, take 1/2 cup of water and add arrowroot flour to it. Stir it around to create a slurry. It will thicken slightly in the cup, make sure it's stirred well with no clumps at the bottom. Once that's mixed well, pour HALF into the pot of coconut cream. Continue to stir the mixture with your wooden spoon. Save the other half in case you need it (depending on how large your baking dish is, you might want more liquid).

  4. Bring the sauce to a simmer, just before boiling you should notice the sauce will coat your wooden spoon and is nice and thick. Turn heat off at this point.

  5. When cauliflower is ready, add it to a high-speed blender with lemon juice and salt. Pour the cream sauce over it and blend on high until everything is mixed well and you have a cream sauce with no cauliflower bits. Taste and add salt as desired, set aside.

  6. Make a quick topping to set aside: mix 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast with 1-2 tsp of cinnamon, and a pinch of sea salt in a bowl. Keep for the very end!

Put it all together!

  1. To your greased baking dish, add two-thirds of your spaghetti squash to the bottom and pack it in a single layer. I patted mine down with a fork to make sure there were no empty pockets.

  2. Then, add all of your ground meat on top of that, also packing it in well with a fork in a single layer.

  3. Now, pour two-thirds of your bechamel sauce over the meat. With your wooden spoon, lightly push the sauce to cover the meat fully. If at this point you feel more liquid will be needed, add that to the remaining sauce in the blender and blend it on high for 30 seconds. If two-thirds of the sauce covered the meat well and you have one-third left, you're in good shape and don't need the remaining liquid.

  4. Now, with your hands, pull apart some of the squash to the width of your baking dish. Place the squash "in stripes" so you are controlling the amount of squash and can make sure it's even but not sinking into the sauce. Make sure you've covered it in a single layer.

  5. Lastly, add the remaining bechamel sauce over top, lightly pushing with your wooden spoon again to cover the squash. And add your nutritional yeast-cinnamon topping lightly and evenly over the whole dish. 

  6. Bake for 40 minutes until the top is golden-brown and bubbling on the edges. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting into it. Enjoy! This will keep well in the fridge for a week.

Recipe Notes

*I use this Coconut Cream and **Nutritional Yeast