Friday, November 25, 2016

Foodie Fridays: Spaghetti Squash and Meatball Casserole

I had some leftover marinara sauce and was looking for a recipe to use it up.  When I found one for Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs, I knew I had to try it.  I have greatly reduced my carbohydrate intake, which means that pasta, one of my favorite foods, is seldom on the menu now.  While spaghetti squash is certainly not a perfect replacement, it will do in a pinch, and I think it works well in this dish.

You can make your own meatballs if you like, or use your favorite refrigerated or frozen brand as I did.  Ditto for the marinara sauce.  I reduced the amount of cheese in the original recipe by half, not because I thought it would be healthier but because it just seemed like far too much for my tastes.  Do whatever seems right to you.  Served with a side salad to complete the meal, this tasty dish is perfect for a cold day, and even the most avid pasta lovers shouldn't object if you give them this recipe once in a while!

Spaghetti Squash and Meatball Casserole

1 medium spaghetti squash
2 C. bottled marinara sauce (I used Muir Glen Portabella Mushroom Pasta Sauce)
16 meatballs (I used Aidell's Italian Style Chicken Meatballs)
1 C. shredded mozzarella or Italian blend cheese

To cook the spaghetti squash, use a large knife to hack the thing in half.  Scrape out the seeds with a spoon.  Place the two halves, cut side down, in a baking pan that will accommodate the size of your squash.  Add a little water to the pan to cover the bottom by about a quarter of an inch.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes until the squash is soft (the skin is easily pierced with a knife).

Remove the spaghetti squash halves from the oven and set aside until cool enough to handle.  Using a fork, pull the squash strands out of the shells (run the tines widthwise rather than lengthwise for longer strands).  Place the strands in a strainer and press firmly to drain off as much liquid as possible.

Add a small amount of marinara sauce to the bottom of a lightly greased 9-inch square pan.  Scatter the spaghetti squash strands as evenly as possible in the pan.  Top with a light sprinkling of shredded cheese.  Space the meatballs evenly on top of the squash.  Cover with the remaining sauce and then sprinkle the remaining cheese on top to cover completely.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the casserole is heated through.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.  Serves 4.

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