I can’t remember what possessed me to try spaghetti squash for the first time more than 15 years ago, but I do remember the first recipe I made with it (and the only recipe, literally, until about a year ago). It’s from the Better Homes and Gardens notebook/binder cookbook, and the recipe calls for prepping the squash in the microwave (15 minutes or less), and sauteing a topping of garlic, onions, tomatoes, peppers, and oregano. Then you drench the strands in butter and Parmesan cheese and toss it all together. It’s great, and even my picky eater friends have liked it (well, my dad).
Recently, I’ve been trying other preparations for spaghetti squash. I’ve made “lasagna” in the squash shell, subbing the strands for noodles. I’ve taken the leftover filling from that recipe and put it in stuffed peppers (Hubby and I liked both of those). Apparently, I had the thought to look for alternative uses some time ago, because this recipe (Good Housekeeping, January 2015) was in the pile. It was part of an article about carb stars, and I found it on their website dated December 19, 2014.
“Spaghetti” and Meatballs
TOTAL TIME: 0:35 PREP: 0:15 LEVEL: Moderate SERVES: 4
2 medium spaghetti squash (4 lbs. total)
1 lb. ground turkey
2 small zucchini
4 clove garlic
½ tsp. smoked paprika
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium eggplant
1 medium onion
1 can crushed tomatoes (24 oz)
1 tbsp. sherry vinegar
1 bag baby arugula (5 oz)
With a sharp paring knife, pierce squash all over. Place on a microwave-safe platter or baking dish. Microwave on high for 5 minutes per pound, about 20 minutes. Cool 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine turkey, zucchini, garlic, smoked paprika, and 0.25 teaspoon each salt, and pepper. Form into 1.5 inch meatballs; place on a large platter. In a deep 12 inch skillet, heat oil on medium-high. Add meatballs to skillet. Cook 5 to 7 minutes or until browned on bottom; with this spatula, gently transfer meatballs back to platter. reduce heat to medium.
To same skillet, add eggplant, and onion. Cook 3 to 5 minutes or until beginning to soften, stirring and scraping up browned bits. Stir in tomatoes,vinegar, and 0.125 teaspoon salt. Nestle meatballs in sauce. Cook 8 to 10 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through, gently stirring occasionally.
While meatballs cook, when squash are cool enough to handle, cut in half lengthwise. With spoon, scrape out and discard seeds. With fork, scrape pulp to separate strands. Toss strands with arugula. Serve meatballs and sauce over squash mixture.
I microwaved a 2 pound squash for 8 minutes and the texture was perfect. I used a separate platter than the one I used for the raw meatballs in step 2. I know the meatballs were going back into the skillet later to continue cooking, but why take chances? I also turned my meatballs throughout the cooking time and browned them on all sides.
I didn’t use the eggplant in step 3. Husband can barely tolerate it and I’m pretty sure Client wouldn’t be a fan either. Personally, I love it, so I’ll try using it here when it shows up in the CSA in a few weeks. I used diced tomatoes instead of crushed; after the meatballs were done cooking I removed them from the pan and used the immersible blender to smooth out the sauce.
Verdict: Delicious. The meatballs were moist, tender, and full of an herby flavor (which must have been the zucchini). I would increase the garlic and the paprika next time for a little more punch, but if you like things on the mild side they were fine as is. The sauce was fresh and pungent (I might add basil and oregano) and paired well with the meatballs. I loved the firm texture of the squash strands. I didn’t mind at all that there were no actual noodles in this dish. It’s a great meal for those avoiding pasta (dieters, gluten intolerance, etc.). It’s a little heavy on the prep, but the potential for multitasking made it go pretty smoothly for me. I would definitely make it again.