If there was ever a time to try spaghetti squash – a popular fall and winter squash that resembles spaghetti noodles when cooked – it’s here and now with Low-Carb Spaghetti Squash & Meatballs!
Here’s the skinny (literally) on spaghetti squash: Good ol’ SS is mild in flavor, easy to cook, and is a popular replacement for pasta not only because of it’s aforementioned appearance, but also because it contains just 42 calories and 10 grams of carbs per cup, vs pasta’s whopping 210 calories and 42 grams of carbs per cup. That’s insane!
There’s just one problem with swapping spaghetti squash for spaghetti – it’s NOT spaghetti! It doesn’t feel like spaghetti, it doesn’t taste like spaghetti, and I think many people are disappointed after trying spaghetti squash for the first time, thinking it was going to be the answer to their low-carb prayers. I wish!
All is not lost, however, because even though spaghetti squash doesn’t have the same taste and texture as regular spaghetti noodles, it’s still delicious topped with hearty meatballs, rich marinara sauce, and a modest amount of melted mozzarella cheese on top, just like regular spaghetti & meatballs. Plus it can be served in its own shell. Whee!
Start the Low-Carb Spaghetti Squash & Meatballs with 2 medium-sized spaghetti squash, which will serve four people. Look for spaghetti squash that are free from soft spots and are heavy for their size. A few scuff marks on the outside are fine, but we’re looking for relatively smooth skin here (hey, aren’t we all?)
Using a sharp paring knife, pierce the squash 5 or 6 times around the center, then microwave on a plate for 3 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Spaghetti squash is a harder-skinned squash, so the time in the microwave will help you cut the squash in half lengthwise with a super sharp knife.
Remove the seeds with a spoon then place the squash halves cut side up on a foil-lined and non stick-sprayed baking sheet, brush the flesh with olive oil, season liberally with salt & pepper, then roast at 400 degrees for 50-60 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the thickest part of the squash comes out clean.
Now comes the fun part. Let the squash rest for 10 minutes, until it’s cool enough to handle, then use a fork to start scrapin’! Every which way, in all directions, to loosen up the spaghetti-like strands of squash. Since the skin is pretty thick and hard, you can really get after it without being afraid that the shell will collapse.
K. Once the strands have been freed and fluffed, top ‘em with 4 meatballs. You can use pre-made or homemade meatballs – just make sure they’re cooked and hot. I made a batch of my Sneaky Meatballs using 90/10 beef instead of turkey while the squash was roasting!
Top the meatballs with 1/4 cup marinara sauce (locals: use Gino’s,) followed by 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese. FYI: I had some fresh mozz leftover from Monday’s Skillet Chicken Parmesan, which I stuck in the freezer for ~1/2 hour to firm up before grating it myself.
Pop the stuffed squash halves under the broiler until the cheese is golden brown & bubbly, then you are fine to dine!
Low-Carb Spaghetti Squash & Meatballs
2 medium-sized spaghetti squash
salt & pepper
1 cup marinara sauce
1lb prepared meatballs (or 1 batch Sneaky Meatballs made with turkey OR beef)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pierce the center of the spaghetti squash several times on all sides with a small, sharp knife then microwave for 3 minutes, flipping once. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise with a very sharp knife, then remove seeds with a spoon. Lay halves cut side up on a foil-lined, non-stick sprayed baking sheet then brush with oil and season liberally with salt & pepper. Roast for 50-60 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the thickest part of the squash meets no resistance. Let cool for 10 minutes.
- While squash is roasting, prepare and bake meatballs.
- When squash is cool enough to handle, scrape flesh every which way with a fork to loosen and fluff strands. Top with 4 meatballs, 1/4 cup sauce, and 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese each, then broil until cheese is golden brown and bubbly.
Where spaghetti is soft and chewy, spaghetti squash is crisp-tender and mild in flavor. That said, it still tastes incredible under yummy meatballs (healthy meatballs, I might add!) bright marinara sauce, and melty mozzarella cheese.
I also really like using spaghetti squash in this way because many recipes will have you drowning the strands in butter or oil, which, hello, tastes amazing, but kind of defeats the purpose of enjoying a low-cal food like spaghetti squash!
If you’ve been hesitant to give spaghetti squash a try, I highly recommend this recipe as your inaugural attempt!
In other news…
I’ll be on KCCI News Channel 8 tomorrow morning sharing a classic cold-weather soup with a twist! Locals, tune into channel 8 around 6:40am to check it out!