Healthy twist on gluten free spaghetti and meatballs
It’s fall! Time for warm, comfort meals that satisfy. We belong to a vegetable coop, and every week we get a box of fresh organic produce. It’s a surprise every week because we never know what’s coming – which is actually kind of fun. So this week we got a spaghetti squash. I like spaghetti squash, but what are the chickadees going to do with that? I’ve heard of people using spaghetti squash in lieu of noodles for low carb/ diet options. Although, I wasn’t sure that wouldn’t fly for the kids so I decided to add a little squash to the noodles. It was worth a try. Another added bonus, is that spaghetti squash is low FODMAP and it offers vitamins A and C, fiber and antioxidants which can be low in TQ’s diet.
I started with the squash by slicing it into rings. If you notice the fibers of the squash run parallel to the skin. So by slicing it into rings, you will end up with longer strands of squash – more like the spaghetti noodles. You can slice lengthwise, no problem but your strands will be significantly shorter. Remove the seeds.
Lay the slices down on a baking sheet covered in foil. I drizzled a little (2 Tb) garlic flavored olive oil over the top and sprinkling of sea salt. Pop them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until softened. I cooked it until it was tender but not too soft. Once finished in the oven, I let them rest for a bit and cool while I went on to the rest of the dinner.
Once they are cool enough to handle (or wear an oven mitt) use a fork to “shred” the strands from the skin. Discard the skin. You’ll have nice long “spaghetti” strands. You can eat the squash this way – it’s really delicious with a little sprinkling of herbs and a squeeze of lemon, maybe parmesan cheese too. This step can be done in advanced!
The meatballs can also be made in advanced and reheated when you need to use them. They freeze well, so sometimes I make a double batch and freeze half.
Place 1 lb ground meat, 1/4 cup gluten free panko crumbs, 1 egg, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp oregano in a bowl and mix gently until just combined. Shape meatballs into about 1 inch diameter balls. (A mini ice cream scoop is helpful). Heat a large skillet with 3-4 Tb olive oil – OR garlic flavored olive oil (since garlic in the meatballs is not allowed on low FODMAP)
Gently place formed meatballs into pan with heated oil. Brown each side for 3-4 minutes. Remove meatballs and drain any fat from pan. I use a really lean meat so there is rarely any fat from the pan.
Heat the marinara sauce in same pan. We use Rao’s Homemade sensitive formula marinara or my home made tomato marinara. Notably, these two sauces contain no onions or garlic, FODMAP safe. Add the meatballs back into the sauce and coat. The sauce picks up some of the browned bits which is yummy. I sometimes add a super fine chiffonade of spinach just to amp up the vitamins. (and both kiddos are ok with that) the spinach wilts down and they can’t taste it so much over the sauce.
While the meatballs are cooking start your water boiling for the noodles. Cook your noodles according to package directions. I’ve tried all sorts of gluten free noodles. TQ is a good sport and will eat most of them, but his favorite are the Barilla gluten free spaghetti noodles. These taste really good, just like regular pasta and has a nice bite and texture – MK even approves! (So you know it’s good!) Bad news, they aren’t the most nutritious option -but they make both kids happy! I think it works as part of a well rounded meal like this.
Drain pasta into large serving bowl, add 1 cup (more less according to preferences)of the spaghetti squash. Use large fork to incorporate evenly. See! It blends in nicely.
Serve spaghetti, spoon sauce and meatballs over noodles and top with a little finely chopped parsley, basil, parmesan cheese or even red pepper (depending on dietary restrictions). TQ loved this dish, even with the squash mixed in with the noodles. MK was a little reluctant, she ate it, but prefers her noodles plain. (that’s a win, win in our household!)
Hope you enjoy! And Happy October!