Welcome! At the beginning of the current pandemic, there were so many uncertainties, that many of us found ourselves craving comfort foods; the foods that bring back memories and harken to a safer, more predictable time. Over the past couple of months, I have posted some comfort food recipes such as corn casserole, ham and bean soup, and quiche. Based on the responses I’ve received from readers, many of you have been enjoying these types of food, as well. I have friends and family who have been baking bread, cookies, and cakes with abandon. Soups, slow cooker meals, and good old fashioned casseroles have also had a starring role on our tables. Believe me, these meals are some of my favorites. But in all honesty, they may have been a little too, shall we say, comforting. So today, I’m sharing a low fat, low carb dinner idea that is easy to prepare and easy on the bathroom scale.
To make my Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Meatballs and Marinara, I start with a shortcut; frozen prepared meatballs. There are several brands and varieties available, but for this recipe I am using the Italian seasoned meatballs. One of the things I love about these frozen meatballs is that they go straight from the freezer to the slow cooker, so they couldn’t get much easier. If you want to make your own favorite meatballs for this recipe, that would work equally well, and may taste even better!
After the frozen meatballs are in the slow cooker, add a jar of marinara sauce. I like to elevate jar sauce by adding mushrooms, olives, fresh herbs, and 1 tsp. of Italian seasoning. Today, I also added a splash of both Worcestershire sauce and Merlot wine, but all of these additions are optional. Set the slow cooker on high for four hours or low for 6-8 hours, and walk away. During the slow cooking, wonderful things begin to happen. The sauce puffs up the meatballs, and the meatballs flavor the sauce, just like magic.
About 45 minutes to an hour before serving, split one small spaghetti squash lengthwise, and scoop out all seeds. Brush the entire surface of the squash with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Turn upside down on a baking sheet and coat the back side, too. Don’t skip this step, as we found it made the outer skin crisp and more sturdy to hold the mixture. Roast at 400 degrees for 40 minutes, or until soft. Remove squash from oven and invert onto a serving plate.
Fill the cavity with 1 1/2 cups of the meatball and marinara mixture and top each half with 1/4 cup of grated Mozzarella cheese. Because I know have fresh basil growing in my herb garden, I garnished with a few leaves of that, as well. To eat, shred the squash into spaghetti strands and mix with meatballs and sauce. If you have not eaten spaghetti squash before, it is so delicious and has the mouth feel and texture of pasta. It goes great with spaghetti sauce, or as a side dish with butter, salt and pepper. In Hawaii, we had friends staying with us and I had made meat sauce with spaghetti squash for dinner one night. Not knowing if they would like it, I also made traditional spaghetti noodles. They took some of each, and once they tasted the squash, said they preferred it to the pasta. And just like that…a couple more spaghetti squash converts were born:)
This dinner is healthy and hearty, and despite it being relatively low calorie, low fat, and low carb, I promise you will not feel deprived. Served with a light side salad or fresh fruit, this is the perfect meal to lessen the shame from all of those homemade baked goods and casseroles of the past several weeks. Once this pandemic is over, our need for family favorites and comforting foods will still exist, but it’s nice to have some healthier options in your repertoire, as well. Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Meatballs and Marinara could be just the ticket, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
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Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Meatballs and Marinara Recipe Ingredients
I bag of 26 count frozen Italian seasoned meatballs, or meatballs of your choice
1 24 ounce jar of prepared marinara sauce. I used Prego with mushrooms.
1 small can of sliced mushrooms (optional)
1/2 cup sliced black olives (optional)
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (optional)
1 tsp. red wine (optional)
1-2 Tbsp. olive oil for basting
1 small Spaghetti squash, split lengthwise and seeded
1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese
Follow directions above and enjoy!
*For full disclosure, the size of squash I purchased was too much food for my husband and I to eat, so we had yummy leftovers. To alleviate this problem, find the smallest spaghetti squash to make it a more appropriate individual serving size*