Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Chia Meatballs & Strawberry Basil Sauce
There are certain foods that I will always crave, and pasta with meat sauce is one of them, despite all the bad press they receive. I love glutenous pasta drenched in a rich red meat sauce, and I stand by that statement loud and proud! Faced with a menu full of fancy dishes at an Italian restaurant, most of the time I’m just tempted to order good ol’ comforting spaghetti and meatballs.
However, despite my unapologetic love for carbs and meat, somewhere deep down I’m a responsible adult who does try to eat healthy (especially after a weekend filled with wine and cheese) and so I set out to make a healthier version of my beloved dish.
I’ve often used spaghetti squash as a substitute for noodles. Hearty and easy to make, spaghetti squash is ultimately satisfying because you can pig out on a huge portion on very little calories. For the meatballs, I gave up red meat for turkey and instead of egg and parmesan I used chia seeds and ground cashews as a binding agent. Chia seeds and cashews have quickly become one of my favourite substitutes for eggs and cheese, they’re both great sources of protein and are packed full of nutrients.
Finally for the sauce, I wanted to balance out the heavy squash as well as add a touch of sweetness to compliment the turkey meatballs. Combining strawberries and tomatoes made for a really lovely, light sauce and throwing in a handful of fresh basil really brought everything together.
I absolutely loved how this dish turned out, with hints of citrus and spice, this dish is full of bright summer flavours but also comforts the soul with the hearty vegetables of fall. While nothing will ever take the place of meat and pasta in my heart, I will definitely be craving this healthy version for weeks to come!
Spaghetti Squash with Chia Turkey Meatballs & Strawberry Basil Sauce
- 1 large spaghetti squash, halved with seeds removed
- extra virgin olive oil - for drizzling
For the Meatballs:
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 3/4 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 cup filtered water
- 1/3 cup finely ground cashews
- 1/4 cup chia seeds - white or black
- 1 finely minced shallot
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- zest from one whole lemon
- 2 tbsp parsely - finely chopped
- 1 tbsp cilantro - finely chopped
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
For the Sauce:
- 1 pound fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
- 1 28oz can whole, peeled tomatoes
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
- juice from half a lemon
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 teaspoons raw honey
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- sea salt and ground pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Drizzle the inside of the squash with olive oil and place face down on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes or until the outside of the squash is just soft enough to press.
- Whisk chia seeds and water in a small bowl and set aside for 10 minutes, allowing the chia seeds to gel.
- In a large bowl, combine chia gel, ground turkey, oats, cashews, shallot, garlic, zest, parsely, cilantro, olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Using your hands, mix until evenly combined, then form approx 16 meatballs by rolling the mixture lightly in between your palms.
- Start the sauce. Heat coconut oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Saute shallot and garlic until soft then add tomatoes and strawberries, breaking up the large chunks with a wooden spoon.
- Cook for 3-5 minutes until tomato juices have been reduced by half.
- Add basil, honey and red pepper flakes. Cook about 5 minutes more until strawberries are soft.
- Pulse in a food processor or blender until mixture is a coarse puree, and pour back into pan.
- Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
- Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. When the skillet is nice and hot, place meatballs in the pan carefully and using tongs, rotate them every few minutes until they are evenly browned on all sides, approx 10 minutes.
- Place skillet in the oven and finish cooking the meatballs for 5 minutes.
- Remove spaghetti squash from oven and using an oven mitt and a fork, carve out the squash and place on plate like "noodles". Top with four meatballs and a generous topping of sauce.
This recipe comes together quite quickly, so it's important to prep all the ingredients ahead of time.
Copyright 2017 by PT Potts. All rights reserved.
Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Chia Meatballs and Strawberry Basil Sauce
What’s your favourite way to use chia seeds? Let me know!