Cheesy Baked Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Red Pepper Turkey Meatballs was a featured story in the April Issue of Susquehanna Style Magazine
Living in a food- and farm-rich community makes creating local, in season dishes easy. Once summer is in full bloom, roadside stands and farm markets are popping with fresh, regional produce. Watching my Yia-Yia pick dandelions for a salad was my introduction to a garden-to-plate way of eating. Savoring whole foods, versus packaged processed foods, is the easiest way to know what you’re eating, from sugars and salt to gluten.
Going gluten-free may be a dietary option for some, but for others it is a necessity. The gluten-free adaptation goes beyond reading labels and asking questions when dining out; it also includes becoming creative in the kitchen. There are now many products on the market to make the adjustment a bit easier. But remember, removing gluten from your diet does not automatically mean you’ll be eating healthy. A gluten-free cookie is still a cookie.
In hopes of inspiring you to reach past the box of pasta, brownie mix or sugary oatmeal, I provide the following three gluten-free recipes. Maybe you will even find space in your garden for spaghetti squash this year.
Choosing to substitute spaghetti squash for spaghetti is a good way to play with your food. As a bonus, per serving spaghetti squash has fewer calories than spaghetti. One cup of cooked spaghetti has about 220 calories and 42 grams of carbohydrates. One cup of cooked spaghetti squash contains about 32 calories and eight grams of carbohydrates. You can enjoy it as you would spaghetti by eating it with a Bolognese sauce, just cheese and herbs, in a gratin, as a quiche crust or as a side with grilled meats or vegetables.
For this gluten-free dish, feel free to use your preference of herbs, meats or cheeses. It can easily be adapted to a vegetarian dish by substituting a savory blend of sautéed mushrooms, roasted red pepper, spinach and lentils for the meat.
- Baked spaghetti squash
- 1 3- to 4-pound spaghetti squash,
- halved lengthwise and seeded
- freshly ground pepper
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
- ¼ cup water
- Turkey meatballs
- 16 ounces lean ground turkey
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- ½ cup chopped onion
- ¼ cup chopped roasted red pepper
- ¼ cup gluten-free oatmeal
- 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup julienned dark greens such as spinach, kale, Swiss chard or collard greens
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- ½ cup chopped onions
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
- ½ cup chopped roasted red pepper
- freshly ground pepper
- Cheese mixture and topping
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 16 ounces low-fat ricotta cheese
- 2 cups low-fat mozzarella cheese
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley or basil
- flakes (optional)
- For the spaghetti squash
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Line baking pan with aluminum foil.
- Sprinkle both halves of the spaghetti
- squash with salt and pepper.
- Place the halves, cut side down, on the baking sheet and place 2 halves of a garlic clove underneath each half. Add ¼ cup water to the roasting pan. Roast for 45 minutes, or until tender. Remove from oven.
- Using a fork, carefully shred the flesh into strands and place them into a bowl. Gently mash the roasted garlic cloves and mix with the spaghetti squash. Set aside. Discard the skin of the squash. Leave the oven on.
- For the meatballs
- Cover a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- In a mixing bowl combine all the turkey meatball ingredients.
- Shape into 24 meatballs, about 2 inches each, and place them on the baking sheet.
- Cook in the preheated oven at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes. Remove and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
- For the sauce
- In a saucepan over medium heat, sauté the onions in the olive oil until soft and lightly golden.
- Stir in the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Add the diced tomatoes and roasted red pepper. Reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Turn the burner off and allow to cool.
- When cooled use an immersion blender to puree the sauce as finely as you prefer. If you do not have an immersion blender put the mixture into a blender and process the sauce as finely as desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- To assemble
- Mix ¼ cup of the grated Parmesan cheese with the roasted spaghetti squash.
- Combine the ricotta cheese, ½ cup of the low-fat mozzarella cheese and dried parsley.
- Prepare either 12 to 18 muffin molds, a 11-inch-by-9-inch baking dish or 2 9-inch pie plates with light olive oil.
- Gently press the spaghetti squash mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the muffin molds or the baking dish. For muffins, use approximately ¼ cup squash, 1 tablespoon cheese mixture and 1 meatball per muffin mold. Cover with the cheese mixture and top with meatballs and sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese and ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese.
- Bake in the preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes, or until golden.
- Allow to rest for 5 minutes before removing from the muffin tin or cutting to serve.