Turkey Meatballs with a Twist

When I was young, I hated spaghetti. I don’t know if it was the meat sauce or the spaghetti noodles, but the whole idea of spaghetti just didn’t appeal to me.

Side story: When I was in middle school, I remember having a plate of spaghetti and caesar salad before soccer. During the game, I scored a hat-trick and everyone was asking me what I ate for dinner that day! I couldn’t believe it but could it be true? Did the spaghetti help me score all of those goals? I don’t think I’ll ever know the answer to that question, but I do think that this soccer game changed my thoughts on what had recently been one of my least favorite childhood meals.

From that day on, spaghetti dinner was welcomed with open arms and I have loved it ever since! Weird how that happens, don’t ya think??

Now that I’m more conscious of my eating habits I definitely don’t indulge in as many pasta dishes as I used to, but I have found a great and healthy alternative that’s exceptionally delicious. No, it’s not whole wheat pasta…

It’s spaghetti squash!! Not only is it stringy like spaghetti, but it has a nice crunch and will hold any sauce you pair with it. I’ve tried spaghetti squash in a variety of different ways, but today, I want to focus on a classic: spaghetti and meatballs. And guess what? There’s a healthier meatball, too! Start with lean, fat free ground turkey, and instead of breadcrumbs, replace them with quinoa and zucchini.

Healthy Turkey Meatballs served over a bed of Spaghetti Squash

1 medium-sized spaghetti squash

1 lb of lean, fat free ground turkey

1 zucchini, grated

1 cup of quinoa (Combine 1 cup of dried quinoa with 2 cups of water, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover, let rest for 15-20 minutes or until all the water is absorbed)

1 large egg

1 small onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 bunch of parsley, chopped

1 tbsp, italian seasoning

1 tsp, red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp, salt

1/3 tsp, pepper

Any kind of sauce you would like! (I like tomato basil or pesto)

Directions

Spaghetti squash:

1. Heat oven to 375 degree Fahrenheit.

2. Place the whole spaghetti squash on the middle rack and bake for 20 minutes. Flip and bake for another 20-25 minutes or until some light brown marks begin to form on the skin.

3. Remove spaghetti squash and let cool.

4. Slice open the spaghetti squash lengthwise (Caution: it will still be very hot once you cut into it).

5. Using a large spoon, remove all seeds from both halves.

6. Using a fork, gently start to scrape the strings away from the skin. It will start to break away very easily. Scrape out as much of the squash as you can and place in a bowl. Set aside.

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Meatballs:

1. Turn the oven down to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Place ground turkey in a bowl. Add zucchini, quinoa, egg, onion, garlic, parsley, red pepper flakes, italian seasoning, salt and peper to the ground turkey.

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3. Stir until ingredients are combined evenly. The mixture will be on the moist side since there are no breadcrumbs to soak up some of the moisture; don’t worry about this as it will help cook tender meatballs.

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4. To form the meatballs you can eye ball or measure about a tablespoon and a half portion of the ground turkey mixture (you can really make them as big or small as you’d like). Roll into a ball and place on a greased/non-stick pan.

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5. Cook meatballs for around 20 minutes or until browned and somewhat firm to touch.

As for the sauce, you can either make your own homemade tomato sauce/pesto sauce, or buy the jar. Since  the spaghetti squash and meatballs were my priority, I decided to make this last step a little easier on myself. I bought a pre-made jar of pesto sauce to bring it all together.

Saute the spaghetti squash in 3 tbsps. of pesto sauce until the sauce warms through.

Place the spaghetti squash on a plate and top with meatballs, parmesan cheese and a few ribbons of basil.

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Enjoy!

Can you think of any meals you used to hate but now love?

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6 thoughts on “Turkey Meatballs with a Twist

  1. I tried to make turkey meatballs once and they were good, but not great. Your recipe looks delicious and very flavorful! thanks for posting this.

  2. I’m not a huge fan of pasta but the spaghetti squash looks easy to make, and I’m sure its more flavorful than regular spaghetti. I don’t like jar sauce so when we eat pasta my favorite is to cook the pasta in chicken broth and add a can of diced tomatoes and some artichoke hearts. We cook it down till its saucy. Not sure if the squash would hold up to that, but I’ll try and let you know.

    • Definitely keep me posted! I’m sure it will. A quality jarred sauce is a nice quick go-to, but I definitely agree. Nothing beats homemade; tomatoes, garlic, basil, salt and pepper….so good!

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