Thursday, May 31, 2012

Spaghetti Squash & Meatball Parmigiana

First, I am offering my sincerest apologies that there are no pictures of this dish.  You see, it was originally inspired by Spaghetti Squash Lasagna over at Skinny Taste.  I intended to follow Gina's recipe to a "t," and not even bother posting it on my blog, so why would I have taken pictures?  My other idea: I was going to make meatballs and serve on the side.  As I was putting it all together though, it took on a life of its own!  I ended up layering the squash with the meatballs, and obviously tons of mozzarella cheese.   It came out of my oven a bubbly, gooey, melty combination of deliciousness.  I've been pretty much obsessing over it all week.  It came out so good that I've even forgiven it for making my apartment a sweltering 80 zillion degrees.  (And have decided to finally buy an air conditioner so I don't have to wait until October to make this again.)  Next time I make it, I promise to update this post with drool-inducing pictures.  Pinky swear!

I'm not going to lie to you.  This is is an intensive dish.  It requires a little elbow grease, and a good amount of time.  (And a cold day or a well air-conditioned home.)  I'll include some short cuts at the end, but expect this to take at least a solid hour with short cuts.  Closer to 1.5-2 hours without.

One last note: I'm not usually one who will substitute spaghetti squash for actual pasta.  I might make it once in a while, but I never expect it to satisfy like real pasta will.  However, I didn't even miss the pasta in this dish.   The squash was still squashy, but completely delectable.

Spaghetti Squash & Meatball Parmigana
inspired by Skinny Taste, meatballs adapted from Cook Yourself Thin (from Skinny Spaghetti & Meatballs in the first cookbook)
Serves 8, 10 WW P+ serving


For Sauce:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
28 oz crushed tomatoes
14 oz tomato sauce
1 Tbsp oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 Tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp basil
dash parsely

For Meatballs:
2 slices of favorite sandwich bread, crusts removed
1/4 cup water
1 lb ground pork
1 egg
1/2 cup grated parmesean cheese
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 Tbsp parsely
1 Tbsp oregano
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp red pepper flakes

Remaining Ingredients:
1 medium to large spaghetti squash (I got 4 cups of "spaghetti" from mine)
1/2 cup grated parmesean cheese
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
6 oz part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  When oven is preheated, insert spaghetti squash and roast for 1 hour.

2. While squash is roasting, prepare sauce and meatballs.  Place bread and water in a large mixing bowl and set aside for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large pan. Once heated, add onions and garlic and cook until fragrant and just starting to brown.  Add crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce.  Allow to heat through on medium heat for a few minutes.  Then stir in spices, reduce to low heat, and allow to simmer while you prepare meatballs.  (Best to cover to avoid splatter.)

3. Go back to bread and water.  Squeeze out excess water and pour out of bowl.  To soggy bread, add remainder of meatball ingredients.  Mix together with your hands, making sure to keep a light touch, until all ingredients are well incorporated.  Then form balls (in this case, I made the more patties than balls for the sake of adding to the casserole without having to cut them) and add to sauce.  Allow to cook in the sauce about 20-30 minutes, until pork is cooked through - or longer if your squash is still cooking/cooling/being prepped for deliciousness.

4. When squash comes out of the oven, place aside to let it cool.  When it's cool enough to handle (I said I'd wait 20-30 minutes, but I doubt I waited more than 10), slice into it lengthwise with a big knife.  Remove the seeds and gook.  Then take a fork and start raking through the squash.  It will pull away from the skin and look like strands of spaghetti.

5. Now the fun part: Let's build this thing!  Take a couple spoonfuls of sauce from the pan and layer on the bottom of a 9x13 dish.  Add half the spaghetti.  Cover with half of remaining sauce and half of meatballs.  Top with ricotta (you can add just spoonfuls, no need to spread it evenly) and a thin layer of mozzarella.  Then add another layer of squash, topped with remainder of sauce and meatballs.  Cover with rest of mozzarella and sprinkle with parmesan.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until sauce is bubbly and cheese is melty and browned.

I know you're going to want to dive into this right away, but please don't burn yourself!  Give it a couple minutes to cool down.

1. Use pre-shredded or pre-grated cheeses.
2. Prepare spaghetti squash in microwave.
3. Prepare a double batch of sauce and meatballs when you have some time.  Eat half (perhaps over real spaghetti) and freeze remaining half.  When you want to make this dish, just thaw out frozen half.
4. Use jarred spaghetti sauce.
5. Use pre-made meatballs.

Updated 6/2/12 with additional shortcuts.

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