Okay I know what you’re thinking – why would you mess with an already good thing? There’s no denying that spaghetti and meatballs is delicious. It’s hearty, comforting and something that pleases even the pickiest of eaters. I mean, who doesn’t love twirling their noodles with their fork? But when you have half an acorn squash and some soon to be not-so-fresh basil in your fridge, you’ve got to get creative… which is how my not-so-traditional spaghetti and meatballs was born.
This dish is relatively easy to prepare but can be made even easier if you use pre-made pasta sauce as the base for your marinara. You can also use whatever vegetables that you have on hand, so don’t be afraid to improvise. Cooking is an improvisors best friend. Baking on the other hand… I think we both know it can be a bit more finicky.
I used organic grass-fed lean ground beef to make my meatballs, but ground chicken, pork or even turkey would work great as well. You could also use veggie ground round if you’re a vegetarian, or if you just don’t feel like cooking meat. This recipe is extremely versatile.
Hope you enjoy this dish as much as I did!
Not-So-Traditional Spaghetti and Meatballs
Serves 4-6, depending on the size of your family’s appetite
- 1 lb. lean organic grass-fed beef
- 1/4 white onion, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 egg
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3/4 white onion, diced **Use the remainder of the onion from your meatballs
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 acorn squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks **My secret ingredient 😉
- 6-8 mushrooms, sliced
- 4 small carrots, diced
- 1 zucchini, quartered and sliced
- 1 tablespoons Italian seasoning
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/4 cup white wine, optional **The sweeter the wine the better
- 2 24oz. jars of organic strained tomatoes **If you like thick sauce, use one jar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a medium sized bowl add your beef, minced onion, garlic, raw egg and salt and pepper to taste. Mix and form into 1-2 inch balls.
- Heat a skillet with about a tablespoon of oil. Add your meatballs and brown on each side. Once your meatballs are browned and hold their shape nicely, remove from heat and prepare your sauce.
- Preheat your oven at 375 degrees.
- Peel and cut your acorn squash into 1/2 inch chunks, toss with avocado or coconut oil, salt and pepper then pour out onto a baking sheet. Place your squash in your oven and cook for 45 minutes, or until golden brown.
- While your squash is cooking, prep your vegetable for your sauce. Dice the remainder of your onion and garlic, cut up your carrot, and slice your mushrooms and zucchini. Set aside.
- Heat a tablespoon of oil in a deep sauce pan (ideally something with a lid so that you can simmer your sauce). Add your onions and garlic and saute until soft and caramelized. Add your mushrooms and carrots. Once your mushrooms start to release their juices, add your zucchini and Italian seasoning (mine was a mix of sea salt, black peppercorns, onion, garlic, rosemary, oregano, basil and marjoram).
- Once your veggies start to soften, pour in your strained tomatoes and add a tablespoon of tomato paste. Stir to mix. If your sauce seems think, add about 1/4 cup of white wine. The sweetness in the wine also does wonders for the sauce. 😉
- Let your sauce stew for about 5 minutes, then add your meatballs and roasted squash. Stir your meatballs in to cover, then let simmer for 25-30 minutes. The longer you simmer the more flavourful your sauce will be.
- At about the 15 minute mark, tear up your basil and add it to the sauce. I like to taste my sauce throughout the entirety of the cooking process and add salt or extra seasoning as I see fit. So don’t be afraid to dip your finger in and give your sauce a taste, and tweak as needed.
- While your sauce is simmering, cook your noodles. Once your noodles are done, strain, plate and top with a healthy scoop of your homemade sauce. I then finished by sprinkling a healthy amount of nutritional yeast on my spaghetti, but you could use parmesan or any other cheese of your preference.