Spaghetti Squash & Meatballs – Easy Meal (&Healthy!)

Squash & Meatballs

Roast a squash, whip up some veggie packed meatballs, and embellish some store bought red sauce – the results –  a tasty, healthy version of spaghetti and meatballs! Read on to see how a cooking snafu resulted in a great version of this recipe. Also, don’t forgot to share this recipe on Facebook, Pinterest or comment on ItsThyme.Cook.com (which is greatly appreciated) to let me & others know your tweaks to this recipe.

The same vegetable medley is mixed into tender, baked and sauce simmered, meatballs and also pumps up the flavor and thickness of the purchased sauce. You can select whatever sauce you prefer and vary the meat mixture to include beef, pork, turkey or a custom combination.

As it turns out, there’s also flexibility with the squash you choose! When I was trying to shred the strands of the roasted squash, I realized my snafu. I had roasted a butternut squash, not a spaghetti squash! Silly girl. But as it turned out, it was delicious! I tossed in a sprinkle of crushed red pepper to offset the sweetness of the butternut squash, along with chopped fresh basil and Parmesan cheese. You can also microwave the squash if you’re pinched for time. Topped with with the meatballs, savory sauce and scattering of Parmesan shards, this easy meal has made its way into the weeknight favorite category at our house.

Spaghetti Squash & Meatballs

Serving Size: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash (about 2 pounds) or butternut if you want to try the snafu version!
  • kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 1 large stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves (loosely packed, stems removed, not chopped)
  • 1 pound ground beef or a mixture of ground beef and ground pork (or other combinations)
  • 1 large egg, beaten lightly
  • 1/2 cup Italian-style dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup shredded or grated Parmesan + 4 tablespoons shredded Parmesan or Parmesan Shards
  • 24 ounce jar red sauce (I used Classico Tomato & Basil)
  • crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Halve squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Sprinkle the cut sides with 1/2 teaspoon salt, then brush both cut sides with olive oil. Put the squash cut side up in a baking dish and cover tightly with foil. Bake 20 minutes (increase to 25 if using butternut). Then uncover and continue roasting until squash is tender, about 35 minutes. I prefer and recommend baking the squash, but if you're short on time, you can microwave the spaghetti squash using this method: Pierce a whole squash through to the center with a thin sharp knife 6 times. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Turn squash over and microwave 5 minutes more. Remove from microwave and cover with kitchen towel or inverted bowl and let stand 10 minutes. Halve squash lengthwise and discard seeds and center pith.
  • While squash is baking, make the meatballs. Brush a baking sheet with olive oil or spray with olive oil cooking spray. Pulse the celery, carrot, onion, garlic and parsley in a food processor to make a paste (if you don't have one, I believe a blender will get the job done.) Transfer half of the vegetable paste to a bowl and add the ground meat, eggs, breadcrumbs, 1 cup of Parmesan, 1 teaspoon of salt and mix with your hands until just combined. Form into 12 meatballs. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Bake in same 425 degree oven with squash, until firm, but not cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  • While meatballs are baking, warm sauce in large nonstick fry pan. Add the remaining vegetable paste to the sauce and simmer, covered, on low for a few minutes. After baking meatballs, add them to the sauce, spooning sauce over the meatballs to coat. Then cover and continue to simmer meatballs on low until cooked through, about 15 minutes.
  • Use a fork to scrape the spaghetti squash flesh into strands (if you opted for butternut squash, it comes off more in chunks vs. strands.) Toss the squash with 2 tablespoons of Parmesan shards, chopped fresh basil, a touch of salt to taste and a sprinkle of crushed red pepper, if preferred. You can also let people sprinkle on their own crushed red pepper if not everyone enjoys a touch of heat.
  • Divide the squash among 4 bowls and top with meatballs, sauce and remaining 4 tablespons of Parmesan shards. Enjoy!

Notes

Adapted from Food Network Magazine recipe

http://itsthyme2cook.com/seasonalrecipes/spaghetti-squash-meatballs-easy-meal-healthy/

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