I always thought that spaghetti squash was a sort of “gimmick” vegetable. Who really ate this thing? I mean, if I wanted squash, I’d just buy a zucchini, chop it up and cook it. Why do I need a food that resembles another food I like?
Well, the answer to that question came to me when I could no longer eat the other food: pasta, because I was on a low-carb, no-carb diet. I was making meatballs and I was craving pasta. So I grabbed a couple of spaghetti squash at the store.
Cooking them certainly was easy. I washed them, cut them in half, and removed the seeds and membrane stuff with a spoon. I flipped them onto their backs, skin side down, and drizzled some extra virgin olive oil on them. A little sea salt and pepper, and then I flipped them back down, skin side up, on a sheet pan lined with non-stick aluminum foil. Into a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30–40 minutes. When they were soft to the touch, I removed the sheet pan from the oven, flipped them back over again, and let them cool to room temperature. Then I simply spooned out the flesh, and it came out in strands, like spaghetti.
While the squash roasted in the oven, I made the meatballs. My wife is on a gluten-free diet, so I used gluten-free bread crumbs. The carb count of GF bread crumbs is about the same as regular bread crumbs, around 75 carbs per cup. I used 1 cup to make 25 meatballs, so they had about 3 carbs a piece. Not super low carb, but not awful.
Here’s how it went down…
For the balls…
1 lb. pastured ground veal
1 lb. ground grass-fed beef
1 cup GF breadcrumbs
2 eggs, cracked and scrambled
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and form into meatballs. Place them in a hot pan with 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil. Cook until the meatballs are browned on all sides.
For the sauce…
2 cans (28 oz.) of tomatoes, pureed
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
In a large pot, saute the onions in a little olive oil until translucent. Add the pureed tomatoes and cook at medium heat until the foam disappears.
Add all the herbs and spices and mix well. Continue cooking on medium heat, lowering to a simmer if the sauce seems to be boiling too hard.
Add the meatballs to the sauce when the meatballs have been browned on all sides. Pour the entire contents of the meatball pan, including the olive oil and fat, into the tomato sauce pot.
Make sure all the meatballs are covered with the sauce. Place a lid on the pot, and simmer for at least an hour, until the meatballs are cooked all the way through.
Scrape the spaghetti squash with a spoon and place a mound of it in the center of the serving dish. Top it with the meatballs and sauce. Grate some Parmigiano-Reggiano over the top, or do what I did this time, and cut a slab of mozzarella di bufala into small cubes and toss on top. A little sprinkle of oregano and olive oil for good measure on top.