Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Spaghetti Squash and Spicy Meatballs

Spaghetti Squash and Spicy Meatballs
In the past year, I was introduced to the idea of having spaghetti squash stuffed with various other food.   Mark and I have both loved this type of meal since I made that discovery!  Spaghetti squash is fun to eat right out of its shell, plus you get to eat a LARGE serving.  Also, when eating it in its shell it stays hot for a long time, and Mark in particular really appreciates this for some reason.   I think spaghetti squash tastes really good, and seems to pair well with lots of other flavors.  If you've never had it before and are skeptical, I think the trick is that you can't think of it as a replacement for spaghetti.  While it does have the spaghetti strand property, it doesn't taste like spaghetti... so if that's what you are hoping for then you will be disappointed!  Instead, enjoy it for what it is and its own taste.
Spaghetti Squash and Spicy Meatballs
The first spaghetti squash recipe I tried was a Mexican Stuffed Spaghetti Squash.  Since then I've also had Mediterranean Style and Stuffing Stuffed all with stuffed spaghetti squash (I know that last recipe is for a different type of squash, but I used spaghetti squash).  This time I wanted to try an Italian version, since that's what a lot of people first try with spaghetti squash.  While the Mexican spaghetti squash is still probably our favorite, this was also very good and was a nice way to have Italian flavors.  The meatballs are a spicy turkey meatball and the sauce is a spicy tomato sauce with mushrooms.  While you could certainly cook the squash and pull out the strands and serve it out of its shell, I prefer eating it in its shell.  One regular spaghetti squash (about 3.25 pounds) serves Mark and I pretty generously.
Spaghetti Squash and Spicy Meatballs
If you've never had spaghetti squash before, you should definitely give it a try this winter.  Don't be intimidated by how big it is... it's actually not that hard to cook and can be super tasty.  And if Italian flavors aren't your thing, try some of the other recipes I linked to!

Spaghetti Squash and Spicy Meatballs

serves: 4

Note:  If you want to have this for leftovers, I would recommend keeping the squash and stuffing separate until right before serving.  Store cooked in the refrigerator and then when ready to eat, stuff each squash half, top with cheese, and reheat in the oven.  


  • 2 spaghetti squash (about 3 pounds each)
  • mozzarella cheese (for sprinkling on top)
  • Parmesan cheese (for sprinkling on top)
  • 1 pound 94% lean ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Spicy Tomato Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 10 ounces baby portobella mushrooms, brushed clean, trimmed, and sliced


1)  Adjust oven racks to upper middle and lower middle racks.  Preheat oven to 400F.  Cover a baking sheet with foil and place spaghetti squash on it.  Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes. (You are trying to make the squash easier to cut in half by softening them a bit!)

2)  Remove spaghetti squash from oven and slice each squash in half.  Remove and discard the inner strands and seeds.  Spray each half with olive oil spray (or other cooking spray) and put the squash flesh side down onto the baking sheet.  Return to the oven on the lower middle rack and bake for another 35-40 minutes until fork tender.

3)  Meanwhile, for the sauce:  combine 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and garlic in a small pot over medium heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is fragrant and brown, about 2 minutes.  Add crushed tomatoes and stir to combine.  Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes.  

4)  For the meatballs: combine all meatball ingredients in a large bowl.  Form mixture into meatballs about 1-inch in size (I got 24 meatballs) and place formed meatballs onto a greased (or parchment lined) baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes.

5) While meatballs bake, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Once simmering, add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally until mushrooms are cooked through and brown.  Add sauce to mushrooms and continue cooking over low heat.  Once meatballs have baked for 15 minutes, add meatballs to the sauce and stir so meatballs are covered in sauce.  Keep warm.

6) Once spaghetti squash are cooked and fork tender, remove from the oven and fill each spaghetti squash half with 1/4 of the meatballs and sauce.  Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and put back in the oven.  Turn the broiler on high and continue cooking for 2 minutes (be careful!  You don't want it to burn!).

7)  Remove stuffed squash and serve each half in a large bowl.  Enjoy!

(meatballs slightly adapted from Ambitious Kitchen, squash cooking method adapted from Edible Perspective, and sauce adapted from Annie's Eats)

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