Spaghetti Squash & Baked Meatballs
Happy Friday! WOOHOO!
Typically, we buy some store-bought pasta in a box and jazz up a fun spaghetti sauce when we’re craving Italian. Last night, we decided to branch out and try a healthy take on the typical spaghetti and meatballs.
Instead of pasta, I made spaghetti squash. Instead of beef meatballs, I made some turkey & chicken meatballs. Instead of store-bought tomato sauce, I made sauce from scratch. The tomato sauce cooks for three hours, so you’ll want to plan ahead and either make this on the weekend, or make the sauce in advance.
Spaghetti squash is really delicious and so good for you, too. I like it on its own with some butter, or a little brown sugar and cinnamon. But it is also an awesome substitute for pasta and rice as the base of a dish. If you’re apprehensive about trying the squash in this recipe, you can totally use regular pasta in its place it would be equally delicious.
A note about the meatballs: I made both a turkey and chicken meatball, separately. I had to experiment because I’ve never made meatballs before and was guessing at quantities of ingredients at first. My first batch of chicken meatballs had way too much breadcrumbs and tasted more like meatloaf. But with a lot of the tomato sauce, it wasn’t awful. The second batch, which I did with turkey, came out juicy, delicious and perfect. I also played with the size of the meatballs and found the bigger ones to be a bit better.
The beauty of this recipe is that I found some great gluten free breadcrumbs at my local grocery store. So I didn’t have to make my own. For wheat-eaters, you can just use whatever you normally use for breadcrumbs, but for my fellow Celiacs or gluten intolerant folks, see if you can locate this puppy at a grocery near you! They make them in original and Italian-style and I’ve used them a few times and they taste and work awesome.
What you’ll need: For the spaghetti part, just plain ol’ spaghetti squash. For the meatballs, breadcrumbs, milk, onion, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, egg, ground chicken or turkey (or both), tomato past and fresh oregano. For the sauce, take a look at my Homemade Tomato Sauce recipe.
Spaghetti squash is really difficult to cut open, but could not be easier to cook and prepare. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees, and cover a baking sheet in parchment paper. Find the sharpest knife you have in your kitchen and remove the stem. Then cut the spaghetti squash in half length-wise, scoop out the seeds and place cut side down on the parchment paper. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the outside shells are soft and inside is cooked.
While the spaghetti squash is cooking, prepare the meatballs. In a small skillet, heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onions and garlic with some salt and pepper until the onions soften, about 8 minutes.
Let that mixture cool slightly while you combine the rest of the meatball ingredients. In a large bowl add the egg, ground meat, one tablespoon of the tomato paste and breadcrumbs. Then add the onions and mix until combined. Last, add the chopped oregano and combine with your hands until it’s a uniform mixture.
Now it’s time to form the meatballs. For my first batch, I made 15 meatballs. I made 12 in the second batch and like how they were a bit more juicy, so I recommend forming the mixture into 12 meatballs. But it’s really up to you. I used a baking dish but you could use a cookie sheet, too. Combine the remaining tablespoon of tomato paste and olive oil and use your fingers to spread on top of the meatballs.
This is the chicken batch.
This is the turkey batch.
Once the spaghetti squash are done and out of the oven, turn up the temperature to 400 degrees and bake until the meatballs are just cooked and still juicy, about 20 minutes. You may want to cut one open and make sure it’s done inside.
The spaghetti squash should be cooled enough to touch now. Using a fork, scrap out the insides of the cooked spaghetti squash. It should easily scrape into spaghetti-shaped pieces.
Place in the bottom of a bowl.
Top with meatballs.
Top with the spaghetti sauce and enjoy!
Spaghetti Squash & Baked Meatballs
- 1 large spaghetti squash
- 1/3 cup breadcrumbs
- 2 T milk
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 small garlic cloves, minced
- 2 T extra virgin olive oil
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 lb. ground turkey or chicken (or a combination of the two)
- 2 T tomato paste
- 3 T oregano, finely chopped
- salt and pepper
For the Spaghetti Squash:
- Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees, and cover a baking sheet in parchment paper.
- Find the sharpest knife you have in your kitchen and remove the stem from the spaghetti squash. Then cut the spaghetti squash in half length-wise and place cut side down on the parchment paper.
- Cook for 45 minutes, until the spaghetti squash are cooked. The skins should now be soft to the touch.
For the Meatballs:
- While the spaghetti squash is in the oven, heat one tablespoon of the olive oil in a small skillet and cook the onion with some salt and pepper until softened, about 8 minutes.
- Combine the egg, ground meat, one tablespoon of the tomato paste and breadcrumbs in a large bowl.
- Add the sautéed onions and oregano and stir until combined.
- Form 12 meatballs and place on a cookie sheet or in a roasting pan.
- Combine the remaining tablespoon of tomato paste and olive oil and use your fingers to spread on top of the meatballs.
- Once the spaghetti squash is done, remove from the oven and let cool.
- Turn up the oven to 400 degrees and bake until the meatballs are just cooked and still juicy, about 20 minutes. I gave them a healthy sprinkling of salt when they came out of the oven.
Preparing the Dish:
- The spaghetti squash should be cooled enough to touch now.
- Using a fork, scrap out the insides of the cooked spaghetti squash. It should easily scrape into spaghetti-shaped pieces.
- Place in the bottom of a bowl.
- Add some meatballs on top.
- Top with the tomato sauce, some shredded parmesan or any other toppings you usually like on your pasta, and enjoy!