Given that it’s Halloweek, I am going to tell you a horror story about these delicious meatballs. Like any horror movie, there are several plot twists when you *think* something terrifying is about to happen, but it’s just the cat, or a gust of wind. This story is no different – I dodged quite a few disasters before the TRUE horror hit my kitchen!
Potential Scary Moment #1: When I decided to try and copy Dan’s mom’s meatballs. They’re awesome and cannot be beat. But I think these turned out well! They’re definitely not “made-by-mom” quality, but they’re great for a first attempt.
Potential Scary Moment #2: I wanted to try roasting spaghetti squash for the first time. This is scary for two reasons – I knew Dan wouldn’t eat it because it’s a weird vegetable, and I had no idea what I was doing. But after a quick Google search, I found a fool-proof method for great spaghetti squash every time! And I was impressed with how it soaked up the flavors in the sauce so easily.
Real, True, I-Can’t-Believe-This-Happened Scary Moment: I was beaming with pride after successfully making meatballs and a new, delicious vegetable. I had tripled the recipe to have leftovers for days to come! I woke up the next morning, ready to pack up some lunches, and…*duh duh duuuuhhhhh* I LEFT THE FOOD OUT ALL NIGHT. RUINED!!! I was incredibly upset. And in a bad mood for about 23 minutes. I think a tear rolled down my cheek as I threw my beautiful-gone-bad meatballs down the garbage disposal.
The good news, after this scary-spooky-horror-story, is that I can’t WAIT to make these again. They’re AWESOME. And relatively easy to make in a big batch so you can throw some in the freezer or have leftovers for a few days. They’re extremely versatile. I added them to spaghetti squash – which is a great healthy alternative to pasta. But they’d be just as good in a meatball sub with some mozzarella, mixed with veggies, or plain as a protein-filled snack!
I came across this simple meatball recipe at a wine tasting party thrown by my friend, Karen. She took us on a culinary, wine-filled tour of the Iberian Peninsula and paired these delicious “albondigas” with a Rioja wine (featured in Wine and Popcorn pairings earlier this year!). They were so simple, with a basic red sauce, but every bite was better than the last. Then, after trying Dan’s mom’s meatballs recently, I knew I had to try and make some of my own. So I fused her recipe with the Spanish albondigas and added some lean ground turkey for a health kick!
I urge you to make these ASAP – but maybe after Halloweek so you don’t experience a horror story of your own!
Good luck! And remember to follow @anappleadayonline on Instagram!
- 1 whole spaghetti squash, cut lengthwise
- Water (enough to fill pan up ½ inch)
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes, low sodium
- 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
- 1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. salt (or to taste)
- 1.5 tsp. dried oregano
- 1.5 tsp. dried basil
- 1½ pound lean ground turkey
- 1 pound ground beef (I used 80/20 ratio)
- 1 green pepper, finely chopped
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
- ⅔ cup whole wheat bread crumbs
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Cut spaghetti squash lengthwise.
- Using a baking dish (a lasagna dish works perfectly), place squash cut side down into the dish.
- Fill dish with ½ inch of water. Cover with aluminum foil
- Cook for 45 minutes. Remove squash and flip over (cut side up). Be careful when removing foil - steam is hot!
- Cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until squash is very tender.
- Allow to slightly cool. Remove seeds using a spoon. Then, using a fork, shred the remainder of the squash into "spaghetti-like" strands.
- Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add 1 tsp. olive oil.
- Saute garlic until fragrant - about 4 minutes.
- Add whole tomatoes and tomato sauce. Gradually break up large pieces using a spoon.
- Add pepper, salt, oregano, and basil.
- Turn heat to low and allow sauce to simmer and thicken while you prepare the albondigas.
- Add ground turkey, ground beef, green pepper, onion, nutmeg, parsley, and bread crumbs to a large mixing bowl. Combine using a large spoon or your hands. (It's much easier with your hands!)
- Form meatballs using a spoon. Each meatball should use up about 2 tbsp of the mixture. I ended up with about 35 in total.
- Heat large saute pan over medium high heat. Add 2 tbsp. olive oil (you may need additional oil with several batches).
- In batches of 12 meatballs, brown on all sides. Turn using tongs to brown evenly. This should take about 5 minutes per batch.
- Add meatballs to tomato sauce.
- Cover, with heat on low, and allow to simmer for 25 minutes.
- Combine spaghetti squash and albondigas - with plenty of sauce - on your plate. Top with additional parmesan cheese or fresh parsley.