Twist on a classic: Spaghetti (squash) and meatballs

Michelle Dudash

With this spaghetti squash and meatballs recipe, you can reduce the carbohydrates and increase the vegetable servings by skipping pasta and serving the Italian-seasoned turkey meatballs and quick, homemade marinara sauce over thin strands of cooked spaghetti squash instead. Cooking the squash first in the microwave and then in a skillet, to cook off the extra moisture, gives the squash a more spaghetti-like texture.

Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs

1 3-pound spaghetti squash

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, divided

1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese, divided

1 1/4 teaspoons Italian seasoning, divided

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 pound 93 percent-lean ground turkey

4 large cloves garlic, minced

1 28-ounce can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Halve squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place face down in a microwave-safe dish; add water. Microwave, uncovered, on high until the flesh can be easily scraped with a fork, 10 to 15 minutes.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Scrape the squash flesh into the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until the moisture is evaporated and the squash is beginning to brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup parsley. Remove from heat, cover and let stand.

Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/4 cup parsley, 1/4 cup Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning, onion powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add turkey; gently mix to combine (do not overmix). Using about 2 tablespoons each, form into 12 meatballs.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs, reduce heat to medium and cook, turning occasionally, until browned all over, 4 to 6 minutes. Push the meatballs to the side of the pan, add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, crushed red pepper to taste, the remaining 3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning and 1/4 teaspoon salt; stir to coat the meatballs. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meatballs are cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes more.

Serve the sauce and meatballs over the squash, sprinkled with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan. Serves 4.

Per serving: 409 calories; 18 g fat (5 g saturated fat; 39 percent calories from fat); 31 g carbohydrates; 14 g sugar; 74 mg cholesterol; 581 mg sodium; 32 g protein; 8 g fiber.