My Nana used to make the BEST spaghetti and turkey meatballs. She used Prego sauce that she hooked up with sugar, and cooked the onions for the meatballs until they were soft enough to go undetected by me, the picky eater. Sometimes she would just use ground turkey meat, and serve it with sauce over rigatoni (I do prefer short pasta). When, in my first year of college, I attended a local university, my number one "take back to school" meal request was her spaghetti and meatballs.
I haven't had Nana's spaghetti and meatballs in 6 or 7 years. I gave up meat back then, and with it the foods that made me feel fat and tired. Life went on. I grew out of my picky kid ways, traveled to many places and fell in love with many more types of food. For a while I had forgotten about Nana's spaghetti. (BTW, she stopped making it when I stopped eating it, and she said "bye-bye" to so many refined carbs. Now she's even a pescatarian.) But here I am years later on a bitter cold and windy day in New York City, dreaming about one of my favorite childhood meals.
I recreated spaghetti and meatballs! I did, I did! Spaghetti squash, perfect sauce, and lentil balls that burst with flavor. It isn't Nana's dish, but I swear, every time I eat my rendition of spaghetti and meatballs, I think of her. She would like that : )
1 small spaghetti squash, halved & seeds scooped out
Preheat oven to 400°. Drizzle olive oil on each half of the squash, and place face up on a baking sheet lined with parchment (or nothing at all). Bake for one hour.
1 can tomatoes (sauce or diced)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup onion, minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp dry basil leaves
1/2 tsp dry oregano
1 bay leaf
2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp raw cane sugar (or coconut sugar, agave, maple, etc...)
In a sauce pan heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then add onions and garlic to saute until translucent. Add tomatoes followed by the herbs. Cook on low, barely simmering while you make the lentil meatballs and the squash roasts.
2 cups green, brown or french lentils, cooked
2 tbsp ground flax seed, mixed with 1/3 cup water
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp fennel seed
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
Pinch of dried or fresh thyme
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp crushed red chili flakes
2/3 Cup Breadcrumbs (for Gluten-free use Almond Flour or dry almond pulp)
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until well combined. Then spoon about 2/3rd of the mixture into a food processor. Pulse to combine and blend. Pour this back into the bowl, and stir together with unprocessed lentils. Season to taste with more salt and pepper. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and use a cookie scooper to scoop out batter and form little meatballs. They should be sticky, but hold together. If they don't hold together, add more breadcrumbs/almond flour or place in the freezer to firm up for 20 minutes.
When all of the meatballs have been formed, bake for 30 minutes, until the bottoms easily come off the parchment and are golden brown.
Assembly & the Squash
To get the spaghetti out of a spaghetti squash, wait until the squash is cool enough to handle, or wear heat gloves. Hold the squash vertically in one hand, and use a fork to scrape out the insides using your other hand. Scrape, and spaghetti will come right out into your bowl.
Serve with the sauce and meatballs on top. Season with fresh herbs (parsley, basil, etc), nutritional yeast and fresh black pepper. Enjoy!