A Healthier Meatball


Who doesn't like a meatball?  This is a healthier version that uses lean ground turkey breast instead of the usual beef pork combo and spaghetti squash instead of pasta.   

For the sauce, I'm pretty flexible.  I just use whatever fresh herbs I have lying around and then supplement with dried ones.  For this I used fresh thyme, fresh savory and dried oregano which went well with the meatballs.   

Serves 4. 

Herbed Turkey Meatballs over Roasted Spaghetti Squash + Simple Tomato Sauce

2 spaghetti squashes  

olive oil

s + p

1 shallot, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

fresh thyme leaves, from 5 sprigs

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

2 tablespoons milk

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup bread crumbs

1 lb lean ground turkey breast

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

for the sauce 

olive oil

1 small yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

fresh herbs and dried herbs

1/4 teaspoon dried red chile flakes

28 oz tin crushed tomatoes 

s + p

Heat oven to 375.  Cut each squash in half lengthwise, scoop out and discard seeds.  Lightly oil, salt and pepper squash halves.  Place cut side down on a large baking sheet and roast about 45 minutes or until done.  (A fork will easily pierce the skin and flesh.) 

Meanwhile, get the sauce going.  In a small pot, heat a splash of olive oil and saute onion until soft, about 8 minutes.  Add garlic, herbs and chile flakes, cook 1 minute.  Add tomatoes and simmer, 20 - 30 minutes.  Finish with salt and pepper.  

While the sauce is simmering get the meatballs going.  In pan, heat a splash olive oil and saute shallot until clear and soft, about 8 minutes.  Add garlic and saute 1 minute more.  Add thyme, chile flakes, oregano and fennel seeds, cook 1 minute more.  Set aside.  

In a large bowl, combine milk, egg, and bread crumbs.  Add shallot mixture, turkey, grated cheese, salt and pepper.  Mix ingredients with clean hands until evenly distributed.  Form into 1 inch meatballs, there will be about 12.  

Heat a splash of oil in a pan on the stove and add meatballs.  Turn frequently to cook all sides, cooking for about 10 minutes until internal temperature of meatballs reads 165 degrees.    


Sear/brown all sides of meatballs in skillet on the stove.  Place in 375 degree oven and bake for 8 minutes or until internal temperature reads 165 degrees on a meat thermometer.  

Remove squash from oven when done.  Let sit until cool enough to handle.  Use a fork to scrape out flesh into serving bowls.  Discard skins.  Season with salt and pepper.  Top with sauce and meatballs.   


Spaghetti Squash Dinner Bowls


I like when a food is its own bowl or dish.  Like soup in a bread bowl, or coconuts you can drink directly out of, oysters, twice baked potatoes and so on.  This one is kind of like that.  

Spaghetti squash is a great thing.  If roasted in the oven for a bit the flesh can be raked with a fork to form 'spaghetti'.  Still tasting like a vegetable but with a firm texture that holds up as a gluten free and healthier substitute for pasta.  

I say this recipe serves 2 people because I can eat a whole squash but realistically, it makes 4 servings.

Spaghetti Squash Bowls

2 spaghetti squashes

4 cloves garlic, minced

dash olive oil

1 shallot, minced

1 lb ground lean turkey breast

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

red pepper flakes, to taste

few fresh basil leaves, chopped

8 oz cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

1 28 oz tin diced tomatoes, pureed in blender

s + p

4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Rinse and dry squashes.  Cut in half lengthwise, remove seeds and lightly rub with olive oil and sprinkle on a pinch of salt and pepper.  Place cut side down on a baking sheet and bake about 40 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside.

While the squashes are roasting, saute garlic and onion in a medium pot.  Add turkey, red pepper flakes and oregano and cook until turkey is cooked.  Add mushrooms, basil and tomatoes.  Bring to a simmer.  Season with s + p.

Switch oven to broil and adjust a rack to a higher position.  

Flip cooked squashes over.  With a fork, scratch and loosen squash flesh, it will look like spaghetti.  Fill with turkey mushroom sauce.  Top with mozzarella slices and any extra basil.  Cook under broiler until cheese it melted, about 10 minutes.