If you’ve never had spaghetti squash, you are in for a surprise. It really is a great replacement for pasta for those looking for a change, or just wanting to stay away from the wheat and rice pasta alternatives. It does have a little crunch but it’s very pleasant, the texture reminds me a little of kelp noodles if you’re familiar with those. Spaghetti squash contains lots of nutrients, including folic acid, potassium, vitamin A & C, and it’s low in calories containing about 42 calories per serving. It’s just so colorful too. I can definitely get used to this and incorporate it into my meal rotations every now and then.
This is my second time having spaghetti squash. The first time was with just sauce and that was delicious by itself. But I decided if I was going to do a recipe it would be best to add in some bean balls as well just to make it a more rounded meal. And it was, this was very filling and the bean balls came out great. They definitely added more protein per serving to this meal and left me completely content for quite a few hours.
I really wanted the bean ball recipe to be easy, using things you may already keep on hand so you can whip these up without too much planning and/or work involved. I also wanted to make this with an option for being low fat, as well as for people with nut allergies, you can add the nuts/seeds if you wish. I did this batch without any nuts/seeds. Adding them into the mixture will give an extra dose of protein, texture and hardiness to the bean balls. You may think they look a little dry coming from the oven (dipping them in sauce right before serving will greatly help that), but once you put some sauce on top they come to life. Honestly, I actually found myself munching on the leftover bean balls the rest of the day without any sauce. They held together extremely well too!
SPAGHETTI SQUASH & ITALIAN BEAN BALLS
- 2 spaghetti squash, seeds removed
- 1 jar (25oz.) organic pasta sauce of choice
- 1 heaping cup of mushrooms (about 4 oz), sliced (I used cremini)
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon olive or grapeseed oil, to saute
- 1/2 cup walnuts or sunflower seeds, optional
- 1 can (15oz) cannellini, kidney or black beans, drained and rinsed (I used cannellini)
- 1 cup of quick oats
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano, basil, thyme or Italian seasonings (or a mixture of these)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- dash or two of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes, to taste
- sea salt and cracked pepper, to taste
Roast Squash: Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, remove seeds and place in roasting pan or baking dish, cut side up. If you like you can coat with a thin layer of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt & pepper. Add about 1/4 inch of water to the dish and bake on bottom rack for 45 – 50 minutes. (You will be adding the bean balls to the middle rack about half way through.) EDIT: Alternately, you can place squash cut side down (without oil and seasonings), add 1/4 inch of water to the dish and bake the same as above (this has been my preferred method lately).
Mix bean balls: Start assembling the bean balls. Saute onions, mushrooms and garlic over medium heat for 5 minutes and let cool. If using the nuts/seeds, place in food processor first and pulse until coarsely ground, and continue. Also, if using old fashioned oats place them in the with the nuts to chop then up a bit. In food processor place beans, sauteed veggies, oats and herbs and spices. Pulse until just combined. Taste for seasoning adding anything extra you may like. I added in some fresh chopped basil I had on hand.
Shape and bake: Roll into balls, about 1 1/2 – 2 inches, and place on a baking sheet. I was able to get 9 jumbo sized bean balls. Put in the oven on the middle rack for the remaining 25-30 minutes of the squash cooking time, they should get at least 20 minutes. Remove both when time is up and let cool. OR…you can also cook the balls in a saute pan using a little olive oil over medium to medium high heat, turning often enough so that all sides brown (I used the oven method here).
Get ready to serve: In the meantime, heat your sauce. When ready to assemble, using a fork scrape the insides of the squash horizontally all the way around. It will pull easily from the sides resembling ‘noodles’. You will have more squash noodles than you might expect, enough to serve two with one good sized squash.
Serve: In individual bowls serve squash ‘noodles’ topped with bean balls, sauce, fresh cracked pepper, salt and some chopped fresh parsley or basil. A nice dusting of Almond Parmesan will also enhance this dish!
Serves 3 – 4. Store leftovers in an air tight container for up to five days. Leftovers were great!
If you don’t have quick oats, use regular oats but process gently into a very rough flour. Also, replace the oats with breadcrumbs if you prefer.
Try dipping your bean balls in the sauce just before serving, this will greatly enhance the visual appeal as well giving it a nice flavorful coating.
Sub in zucchini noodles, gently heated, or any pasta of choice if spaghetti squash is not available.