Roasted Spaghetti Squash and “Albondigas” – Meatballs in Garlic Tomato Sauce

Healthified "spaghetti" and "albondigas"!

Healthified “spaghetti” and “albondigas”!

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.

Mix, Mix, Mix It Up!

Mix, Mix, Mix It Up!

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!

Waiting to be browned!

Waiting to be browned!

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Muy Delicioso!

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!

Meatballs simmering in red sauce.

Meatballs simmering in red sauce.

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!

Roasted Spaghetti Squash and "Albondigas" - Meatballs in Garlic Tomato Sauce
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 servings
Great beginner meatball recipe - few ingredients and even fewer steps! These can be added to the roasted spaghetti squash, a pasta of your choosing, or thrown into a meatball sub. Throw your spaghetti squash into the oven first, then mix up your meatballs and sauce so everything finishes at the same time!
For the spaghetti squash:
  • 1 whole spaghetti squash, cut lengthwise
  • Water (enough to fill pan up ½ inch)
For the sauce:
  • 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
For the albondigas:
  • 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
For the spaghetti squash:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut spaghetti squash lengthwise.
  3. Using a baking dish (a lasagna dish works perfectly), place squash cut side down into the dish.
  4. Fill dish with ½ inch of water. Cover with aluminum foil
  5. Cook for 45 minutes. Remove squash and flip over (cut side up). Be careful when removing foil - steam is hot!
  6. Cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until squash is very tender.
  7. Allow to slightly cool. Remove seeds using a spoon. Then, using a fork, shred the remainder of the squash into "spaghetti-like" strands.
For the sauce:
  1. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add 1 tsp. olive oil.
  2. Saute garlic until fragrant - about 4 minutes.
  3. Add whole tomatoes and tomato sauce. Gradually break up large pieces using a spoon.
  4. Add pepper, salt, oregano, and basil.
  5. Turn heat to low and allow sauce to simmer and thicken while you prepare the albondigas.
For the albondigas:
  1. 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!)
  2. Form meatballs using a spoon. Each meatball should use up about 2 tbsp of the mixture. I ended up with about 35 in total.
  3. Heat large saute pan over medium high heat. Add 2 tbsp. olive oil (you may need additional oil with several batches).
  4. In batches of 12 meatballs, brown on all sides. Turn using tongs to brown evenly. This should take about 5 minutes per batch.
  5. Add meatballs to tomato sauce.
  6. Cover, with heat on low, and allow to simmer for 25 minutes.
To complete the recipe:
  1. Combine spaghetti squash and albondigas - with plenty of sauce - on your plate. Top with additional parmesan cheese or fresh parsley.
This was the method I used for cooking the spaghetti squash if you need clarification. Thanks Emeril!
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 cup squash and 6 meatballs Calories: 525 Fat: 28 g Saturated fat: 10 g Unsaturated fat: 5 g Carbohydrates: 31 g Sugar: 10 g Sodium: 577 mg Fiber: 6 g Protein: 36 g Cholesterol: 120 mg


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