A perfect Fall kale salad that you’ll actually be excited about!
Two become one in this Italian romance. The classic combo of spaghetti and meatballs slims down and levels up in so many other categories. Once you have your meatballs ready, this love affair of squash, cheese and saucy balls will come together like they’re meant to be!
Today on Side of Veggies I’m marrying the two ingredients/recipes into one solid love story. I know the Italians are already alarmed that I’m cutting the spaghetti pasta out of the classic “spaghetti and meatballs” for this romance…but when you know…you know. **It’s important to know you could and should reference and pair with my Italian Turkey Meatballs and Red Wine Marinara.
This is a two part recipe but it’s DEFINITELY important to learn how to cook the squash first as this is the base. I’m telling you now, be safe. This is a tricky process so please take your time cutting the spaghetti squash in half.
- I cut mine lengthwise (hotdog style some would say) because it has more surface area in the boat.
- You most certainly can cut it in half (hamberger style but then it’s like a shallow inner tube. The cooking time may change but the ratio of squash and filling on your fork may be awkward.
- Please use a sharp knife, and if you have protective gloves, use those too. You cannot slice straight down and expect a perfect cut. This has taken me make attempts in my life to really figure it out, and I still get nervous.
Roasted Spaghetti Squash
- 2 small-medium spaghetti squash whole
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil extra virgin
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Line a large baking sheet with foil. Spray down with nonstick cooking spray or lightly grease with oil.
- Carefully cut squash lengthwise. Remove all loose pulp and seeds from the center.
- Brush all scooped halves of squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Lay squash scooped side down. Bake in the oven for 45-60 minutes until you poke the outside of the squash and it’s soft. Remove from oven.
- Flip the boats over. Check to make sure the inside meat is soft and could easily flake apart. Broil for 2-3 minutes (scooped side up) while watching and remove from the oven when the edges get golden brown.
We grew up eating a lot of spaghetti squash, and squash in general. We also also found ways to serve classic Italian dinners throughout the week that were fast and easy. This checks off all the boxes of healthy, fast, and full of Italian flavors. It’s simply lean protein and vegetables, but it will leave you feeling full and satisfied. Similar to if you just inhaled a plate of pasta and meatballs, but without the bloat and post dinner slumbers.
Where this recipe takes a better, in my opinion, spin on plain old spaghetti is the fact that spaghetti squash in particular is buttery and slightly sweet. It’s hearty yet still light enough to spin around your fork.
When going back to the concept of Side of Veggies, it’s all about finding your go to must-have meals and twisting them into a leaner version while you still enjoy the meal. I’m not claiming this to be the same as pasta. I’m just saying that the last time I ate this dinner I felt full and great about the plate of food I had just scarfed down while watching CNN’s Travel Special called Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy. Fantastic documentary by the way!
I was in the moment of eating Italian food but without the guilt. I think that’s just it a lot of times. Americanized Italian recipes are known to be heavy, starchy and served in an overwhelming amount. While watching this documentary, I learned that the best flavors are not always an abundance of food, but simply focus on flavor. Quality over quantity. Again, this recipe has no relation to the show, or classic Italian cooking, but simply gives you what you want without feeling like a glutton.
It’s important to reference several recipes in this post such as the meatballs and sauce. How we’re going to take it one step further is added pesto and cheese!! I introduce to you what I think should be the newest trend in eating “spaghetti and meatballs” on a whole new level!
Spaghetti Squash & Meatball Boats
- 4 halves spaghetti squash
- ⅓ cup basil pesto divided
- 8-16 medium Italian Turkey Meatballs or any meatball on hand, divided
- 1 cup tomato sauce divided
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella divided
- ⅓ cup freshly grated parmesan divided
- dried oregano optional
- crushed red pepper flakes optional
- fresh basil
- Fork apart the spaghetti squash meat within the skin of the squash until it somewhat resembles noodle strands for each boat.
- In each boat add about 1-2 tablespoons of pesto and gently combine the spaghetti squash meat with the pesto.
- Set oven to broil.
- Top each boat with 2-3 meatballs with sauce, 1/4 cup of mozzarella and freshly grated parmesan over the top (about 1 teaspoon per boat). Broil for 3-5 minutes. Watch closely and remove when cheese is melted and starts to bubble.
- Top with fresh basil or dried oregano and crushed red pepper if desired.