3 Noodle-Free Recipes to Amp Up Your Spaghetti (Squash) and Meatballs

It might be hard to believe that a big yellow vegetable can be transformed into a bowl of amazing angel-hair-like pasta, but it can in just a few simple steps. All you have to do is take a spaghetti squash, cut it in half, remove the seeds and place it cut-side down on a baking dish. (You can drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle salt over the squash if you want to jazz it up.) Bake for 45 minutes at 400 degrees, allow the squash to cool slightly before taking a fork and running it over the flesh of the squash. You’ll see noodles instantly appear before your eyes. Don’t have the time to bake the squash? Check out this recipe to prepare in the microwave.

Now that you have the basics down, it’s time to figure out what to top the squash with. Here are three meatball and sauce combos to get you started:

Classic Sauce and Turkey Meatballs
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes 6 servings
For the sauce
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes with basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pour the olive oil in a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and stir for one minute. Then add the tomato paste and let that cook for an additional minute. Add the tomatoes, oregano, salt and pepper and gently stir. Cook sauce until it thickens (this should take about 20 minutes).
For the meatballs
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup milk
1 pound ground turkey
1 large egg
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Mix the breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley and garlic together in a bowl. Then add the milk and stir. Finally, add the turkey, egg, salt and pepper and mix together. Form 1½-inch balls with the mixture. Heat olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and cook the meatballs. Turn them regularly in the pan so that they brown all over. You will probably have to do two separate batches, depending on the size of your pan. Place browned meatballs in the pot of sauce and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked all the way through.
Nutritional information per serving (yields 6 servings) 343 calories, 18g fat, 5g saturated fat, 1552mg sodium, 23g carbohydrates, 21g protein, 11g sugar

Scallion Meatballs with Soy-Ginger Glaze
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 6 servings
For the sauce:
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
1/4 cup peeled, chopped ginger
1 teaspoon ground coriander
4 whole black peppercorns
Heat up a saucepan with the sugar and water and bring to a boil. When the sugar melts completely, reduce heat to a medium-low and add soy sauce, mirin, ginger, coriander and peppercorns. Cook for 30 minutes while stirring occasionally (you want the sauce to reduce by about half and look syrupy).
For the meatballs:
1 pound ground turkey
4 large scallions, finely chopped
½ cup finely chopped cilantro
1 large egg
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
Freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil
Combine the turkey, scallions, cilantro, egg, sesame oil, soy sauce and black pepper, then form into meatballs. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and cook meatballs, turning regularly until they’re brown all over and cooked through. It should take about 8 minutes (you will probably have to do a few batches, depending on the size of your pan).
Nutritional information per serving (yields 6 servings) 283 calories, 13g fat, 4g saturated fat, 1152mg sodium, 24g carbohydrates, 17g protein, 21g sugar

Veggie Meatballs with Spinach-Avocado Alfredo Sauce
Recipes adapted from She Likes Food and Teaspoon of Spice
Makes 4 servings
For the meatballs:
2 teaspoons olive oil
¼ cup chopped onion
Salt
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1½ cups cooked brown rice
2 cups cannellini beans
2 tablespoons bread crumbs
1 teaspoon ketchup
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried thyme
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Heat one teaspoon of the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion, season with salt and cook for three minutes. Add garlic and tomato paste, stir for one minute and remove from heat. Place the onion mixture along with the remaining ingredients into a food processer and blend for 15 seconds (scrape the sides down every few seconds). Refrigerate for 30 minutes, then form into balls. Heat the remaining teaspoon olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Cook meatballs in the pan for about eight minutes, turning often so they are browned on all sides and heated through.
For the sauce:
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
4 cups spinach
1 avocado, skin and pit removed
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Red pepper flakes, optional
Heat olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Sauté the garlic for 1 minute then add the spinach and sauté until it’s wilted (this should take two to three minutes). Place the sautéed spinach, avocado, parsley, lemon juice, salt and pepper into a food processor and blend well. Slowly add ¼ cup of water and blend again. Add in the cheese and red pepper flakes, if using, and blend.
Nutritional information per serving (yields 4 servings) 320 calories, 12g fat, 2g saturated fat, 448mg sodium, 46g carbohydrates, 12g protein, 1g sugar

Ready for other easy weeknight dinner recipes? Check out these blogs:

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