I’ve got way more excitement than usual this morning. Firstly, the birds. I’ve been hearing birds singing in the mornings this week and it’s getting me so excited about Spring. I mean, it’s possible they were singing a little bit through the Winter, but I certainly didn’t notice them. It’s at least getting louder and I think that’s a very good sign of sunnier days!
With the time changing, that’s also a great reason to notice more Spring in the air. Sorry, I guess I’m just really anxious about it getting here. Winter was super fun with all the snow for the Holidays and getting to do some skiing…….but I’m good now. Yep, bring on the scent of freshly cut grass and all the colorful produce!
So I feel like our monthly grocery bill may have gotten a little bit higher ever since I started doing a large part of the shopping, guilty. It’s just that I’ll be looking for one obscure item to add to a new recipe and then notice ten other things I didn’t know I needed. A great example of this are these heirloom tomatoes. Here I was shopping for plain old regular tomatoes when these beautiful gems caught my eye. The price is about 4 times as high as normal tomatoes, but come on, aren’t they just stunning? I sorta HAD to have them.
Haha, the checker at the grocery store didn’t even know what they were. She actually pulled each one out of my bag to scan them individually and set them all over the dirty conveyor-belt, which secretly annoyed me a little bit. I really don’t mean to be rude, but sometimes there are moments. I’m just glad she wasn’t a finger-licker (Please tell me that drives other people crazy too?) Hence the fact that I head to self-checkout about 98% of the time.
……but really none of that is relevant to this recipe. Leave it to me to come up with the most random things to write about in a food post. All proof that I really need someone to put a limit on my coffee.
Getting to the point here. So spaghetti squash my friends, it’s been my thing recently. I don’t know when it started exactly, but our love affair went on all through the cold-weather months and it’s looking like there’s a pretty good chance of it continuing through to the warmer months also.
I know I never tried it as a kid, because even if someone had offered it I’m positive I would have never gotten past its appearance. I think the first time I ever tasted it was only a few years ago and, while I liked it then, it wasn’t until last year that I discovered how much I love it. You’ll probably think I’m majorly weird but I sometimes just like it plain with some seasoning and maybe some chicken or something. I know it might seem like I only eat picture perfect food all day long, but behind the scenes I also go for quick and instant meals as much as anyone.
So if you’re a spaghetti squash virgin then I definitely recommend giving it a chance. What I also like to do sometimes, and what I’ve heard many others mention they enjoy, is doing a half and half blend of spaghetti noodles with it for your pasta night. Hey, and you have to admit it looks pretty close to real spaghetti noodles when it’s plated up like this.
But back to the heirloom tomatoes, this sauce you guys, dah-AY-YUM! It’s good. I can definitely admit to being lazy on more than a few occasions in the early days of my cooking and skipping the fresh herbs and ingredients in favor of dried or canned things thinking it didn’t make much difference. I’m here years later to tell you that it absolutely does. It makes all the difference to use fresh ingredients, especially herbs.
The meatballs in this recipe are nice too, because you can make them with whatever meat you prefer, turkey, chicken, beef, or even sausage if you want. I’ve never tried it, so I can’t say for sure, but I think even meatless meatballs would work well here.
Okay, okay, I’m shutting up so you can maybe actually try this.
Lighten up your next spaghetti night with this version using homemade marinara with all the fresh herbs and spaghetti squash in place of pasta.
- 1 medium spaghetti squash
- 1 pound ground meat (i.e. turkey, chicken, or 80% lean ground beef)
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 cup seasoned panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 medium heirloom tomatoes, diced
- 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon worchestershire
- 2 teaspoons sriracha
- 2 tablespoons organic ketchup
- 1/2 packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 2 teaspoons fresh oregano
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, optional
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- Heat oven to 375 (190 C) and line a baking tray with foil. Pierce the squash with a sharp knife in a few places and place in the oven to roast for 40-50 minutes until the outside starts to look a bit wrinkled and brown. Remove from oven and cool for about 10 minutes, then slice in half and use a large spoon to remove the seeds in the center of both halves. Scrape out the spaghetti-like flesh and separate with two forks to serve.
- While the squash is baking, combine all ingredients for the meatballs in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Roll into 2 to 2 1/2 tablespoon sized balls (about the size of a golf ball) and place each one on a plate or tray lined with parchment. Set aside while you prepare the sauce.
- In a large skillet or dutch oven with a lid, add the olive oil, garlic, onions, and heirloom tomatoes and cook over medium heat for 5-6 minutes until tomatoes are softened. Add the rest of the ingredients for the sauce and bring to a boil. Add the meatballs and allow them to cook in the hot sauce for about 10 minutes, then reduce heat to simmer. Cover pan with lid and allow the sauce to simmer and thicken for about 20 minutes. Check the meatballs for doneness by cutting one in half.
- Serve the sauce and meatballs over your cooked squash (or pasta if you prefer) and top with parmesan cheese and fresh basil if desired.