Spaghetti Squash with Meatballs and Sauce

Roast spaghetti squash with meatballs and marinara sauce.

Roast spaghetti squash with meatballs and marinara sauce.

Roasted spaghetti squash topped with a simple fresh-tasting tomato sauce and Italian-style meatballs.  I’m getting hungry all over again just thinking and writing about it.  This dish is so darn good you won’t even miss the pasta, and think of all the calories you’ll be saving.

This recipe can be reinvented in different ways.  For instance, instead of meatballs,  brown up ground beef ( or turkey) and add it directly to the sauce for a meat sauce.  Cook up some pasta for anyone who won’t eat meatballs and sauce without it, while you enjoy the squash.  This is a meal that will make the whole family happy.  It is low-carb, gluten-free, and paleo friendly.

A large spaghetti squash provides enough “Noodle-strands” for four generous servings.  It can be cooked in the microwave as a time saver instead of roasting it.  The sauce can be frozen and reheated for a busy night.

Serve strands of squash with sauce and meatballs.

Serve strands of squash with sauce and meatballs.

SPAGHETTI SQUASH WITH MEATBALLS AND SAUCE

Yield:  4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 large spaghetti squash, about 3 pounds
  • salt and pepper, to taste

For the Sauce:

  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 an onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup white wine, or chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1  lb. lean ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp. flavored fine bread crumbs
  • 1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil for browning meatballs

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 400 *F.  Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds and membrane.  Season with salt and bake about 1 hour, or longer if needed in a shallow baking dish.  It should pierce easily with a sharp knife when done.

Roast the spaghetti squash.

Roast the spaghetti squash.

If you prefer the microwave, prepare squash as directed above, place in a microwave-safe  dish and cover.  Microwave for 8 – 9   minutes or until soft and pierces easily.

2.  In a large deep sauté pan, melt butter and add oil.  Add onions, celery and carrots and sauté on medium-low heat for about 3 – 4 minutes, until soft.

Sauté celery, onions, and carrot till soft.

Sauté celery, onions, and carrot till soft.

Add the wine, tomatoes and bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper.  Let mixture come to a simmer while you make the meatballs.

Add in crushed tomatoes, wine, and seasonings.

Add in crushed tomatoes, wine, and seasonings.

3.  In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and egg.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Blend well.  Form into meatballs (I like mine medium sized).

4.  In a large skillet, heat the olive oil, and in batches, brown the meatballs on all sides.  Add them to the tomato sauce and let them finish cooking in the sauce.  Simmer the sauce with meatballs for about an hour.

5.  When squash is cooked, let it cool for about 10 minutes.  When cool, use a fork to remove the spaghetti-like strands.  Keep covered and set aside to keep warm until sauce is ready.  Serve topped with sauce and meatballs, and grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

Top each serving with grated cheese if desired.

Top each serving with grated cheese if desired.

SOURCE:    Martha Stewart

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Emphasis on Squash

Fall arrives at my local farm market.
Courtesy, Gotta’s Farm

I wasn’t ready for it but now that its here I’ve adjusted to the new season. Suddenly I want to eat foods that represent Fall like apples, pears, ginger cookies, hermits, any thing with caramel, squash, pumpkin —–oh my, so many foods, so little time to get my fill before the farmer’s markets close for another year.

I think I’ve had just about enough zucchini and yellow squash.  I’m craving the bright color and flavors of winter squash.  It’s called winter squash but that’s not true, really.  It was planted in the spring like all the other vegetables, it’s being picked now, we just eat it mostly in the winter.  There are quite a few squash that are put into this category such as the butternut, acorns, Hubbards, spaghetti, and delicatas.  Winter squashes are fully grown–picked in September and October—with thick skins that keep them fresh and edible  well into winter months.

The long time they spend on the vine does more than give them a hard shell; it also gives the flesh time to develop the sugars and deep warm color that is its signature.  Winter squash are packed with so many vitamins and nutrients that it isn’t just delicious and comforting—it’s so good for you.  Extremely versatile, we can cook it into soups, add it into pastas, include it in a salad, or simply roast it with a bit of oil, salt and herbs.  The only real challenge is removing that thick skin, a task made easier by a sharp peeler or paring knife.  Some squash can be baked in their shells and the flesh scooped out, thereby sidestepping the peeling part.

I expect I’ll be sharing a variety of recipes with you that make use of squash, since we really like it and eat it frequently.  By way of introduction, I thought I would describe for you some of the many winter squash, that are now available in the farmer’s markets and grocery stores.  Perhaps you will be adventurous and try one that you have not had before.

Acorn Squash
Courtesy Gotta’s Farm

ACORN:  Found in most supermarkets, acorn squash is one of the most popular squash varieties.  It is small, acorn-shaped, and can range in color from dark green to yellow and white.  Its surface is ribbed, making it difficult to peel, so the best way to prepare it is to cut in half or quarters and  top with butter, brown sugar or maple syrup, and bake.  Its flesh turns sweet, tender and nutty and can be easily scooped from the shell.  I like to fill the indentation with sliced apples or raisins, then top with brown sugar and butter and roast until tender.

Buttercup Squash
Courtesy Gotta’s Farm

BUTTERCUP:  At a quick look you might mistake this squash for an acorn because of its deep green color, but instead of ribs it has white striped markings.  It is more round with a top that looks like a little hat.  It makes me think of a turban.  It too, has a very hard outer shell and is best cut in half or wedges, seeded, then roasted.  Its flesh is bright orange, much like an acorn squash, and can be prepared in the same way.

Butternut Squash
Courtesy, Gotta’s Farm

BUTTERNUT:  This squash is readily available in the supermarket from early fall through winter.  It is easily identified by its tan, smooth skin, and elongated bell shape. The true name for this squash is the Waltham Butternut, named for the Massachusetts city where it was first grown.  It is perhaps the best known and most widely used squash because it an be prepared in a variety of ways.  The flesh is smooth, fine and sweet, making it excellent for purees, though it is also good cubed and steamed or roasted.  Butternut squash is a good substitute for pumpkin in pie-making, and one of my favorite ways to use it is in Butternut Bisque, a delicious autumn soup.

Delicata Squash
Courtesy, Gotta’s Farm

DELICATA:  True to its name this petite, pale yellow squash has a delicate thin skin that becomes very tender when cooked.  The flesh is creamy, with a sweet, corn-like flavor.  It can be roasted and used in pastas or salads, or sautee slices in butter or olive oil until brown and caramelized.

Hubbard Squash
Courtesy, Gotta’s Farm

HUBBARD:  These are big, blue-gray, and bumpy.  They are the giants of the squash world, growing to be hugh with very thick skins.  Because of their size, they are hard to handle and manage.  If stored at cool temperatures, this is a squash that can be kept for up to six months. You may see them in the supermarket already cut into smaller pieces and packaged to be sold by weight. Home cooks who break one down, or purchase one pre-cut, will find the flesh sweet and tender when cooked.  Cut it into small pieces and boil, roast or steam it. It’s sweet taste makes it perfect for soups and pies.

SPAGHETTI:  Large and golden in color, the spaghetti squash is best known for its stringy, texture, which, when cooked presents a unique surprise.  After cooking the flesh separates and the strands resemble spaghetti pasta.  It can be prepared in a variety of ways including boiling, baking or microwaving. Once the flesh is tender, use a fork to “rake” out the strands all the way to the skin and serve it in the same way as pasta with seasonings, sauces, meats, or other vegetables. When selecting one for flavor and ripeness, look for a large spaghetti squash with deep yellow color.

Spaghetti Squash
Courtesy, Gotta’s Farm