Tag Archives: spaghetti squash

Garbanzo “Meatballs” with Spaghetti Squash

I take the same route to drop my son off at preschool every morning.  Some days I consider going a different way just to make the synapses in my brain do something different (and no, I have no idea if that is what synapses actually do).  But I usually go the same way, making the same familiar turns, crossing the main roads at easier intersections with less traffic.  Something that you only do after you have lived in a town for many, many years.  I sneak through the alley ways and the back streets.  The car drives itself.

Along my way, I see the beautiful elderly woman walking her little yippy dog.  In my estimation, she doesn’t belong here.  She wears large Jackie O style glasses and is dressed impeccably for her morning walk.  This morning she had on a bright blue oxford shirt with a hot pink, tailored jacket.  Her dog is often dressed as nicely as she is.  She walks everywhere, but it seems like she should occupy the streets of the Upper East Side instead of this small town.  One day I saw her near my daughter’s school without her dog and with her hand bandaged.  I imagined what had happened and worried about her for a day or two, after which I thankfully saw her walking with her dog again.  She is always otherwise alone.

When my daughter was in daycare and I was still working, every morning we would drive past the high school on our way to her school.  Every day we saw a man walking with a newspaper that he bought at the grocery store down the street.  The weather never mattered.  If it were raining, he’d carry it in a bag.  If it were sunny, he’d hold it under his arm.  My two year old daughter affectionately called him “newspaper man” every time we’d pass.  Then our route changed.  I quit my job and he was no longer on our morning agenda.  We saw him the other day walking far from his normal route.  At 10, she still remembered him.

Yesterday, while I was walking in my neighborhood, I passed a very elderly woman slowly strolling arm-in-arm with a much younger caregiver.  I have never actually passed her while walking on the street — only by car. My earliest memories of her (from years ago) are walking while holding hands with her very elderly husband. I always noticed because I wondered whether my husband and I would still want to hold hands at that age. Was it because they were still in love or was it simply to steady each other?  One day I saw her walking and he was absent.  For the first few days I imagined he might be ill.  She needed fresh air.  I’ve never seen him again.  Yesterday, I wanted to look her in the eyes and tell her that I was sorry for her loss.

I turned 40 last week.  I just noticed that my uncle is turning 70 in a few days.  He was 30 when I was born. I was 25 when my nephew was born.  My brain furiously calculates numbers that it should ignore.  Subtractions, additions, comparisons.  I’ll be this when that.

Mid-life crisis seems too cliché.  Too self indulgent.

But I’m post-babies who need moment-to-moment care.  I have no career to speak of, having abandoned it so I could perform that moment-to-moment care.  I’m walking the same streets and I don’t know whether to rejoice in the routine or scream out loud in panic.

Garbanzo “Meatballs” with Spaghetti Squash

Makes 15 meatballs

10 ounces of green garbanzos (available at our Wegman’s in the organic frozen foods.  Could also use edamame.)
3-4 cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons italian seasoning
1 teaspoon dried fennel seeds
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup crushed rice cereal (Brown Rice Krispies or Rice Chex style cereal)
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or parsley
1/4 cup olive oil, plus one tablespoon
4 tablespoons marinara sauce
1 medium spaghetti squash
Additional Marinara Sauce

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.  Split spaghetti squash lengthwise and remove seeds.  Rub cut surface with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Place it cut side down in a baking pan and bake for about 45 minutes until it is tender and a knife pierces it easily.

3.  Meanwhile, combine the garbanzos, garlic, italian seasoning, fennel, salt and pepper, and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse about five times.  You want to leave a lot of texture to it.

4.  Remove garbanzo mixture to a bowl and stir in crushed rice cereal, 4 T marinara sauce, and 1 T of additional olive oil (if necessary to hold the mixture together).  Season with additional salt and pepper or spices to taste.  Stir in fresh basil or parsley.

5.  Form garbanzo mixture into meatball shapes and bake for about 12-15 minutes on the bottom rack of the oven (that gives them a little “crust”). (You can also make these ahead of time and chill in the refrigerator.)

6.  When spaghetti squash is finished, use a fork to scrape the strands into a bowl.  Toss with a bit of olive, salt and pepper, and additional fresh herbs if you like.  Serve the squash with a few garbanzo meatballs and marinara sauce.



Stuffed Spaghetti Squash with Sausage

Remember the low carb diet hysteria?  When the grains that were the basis of civilization became banned substances?  I fell just as hard as the majority of people — somehow always looking for the miraculous fix to that pesky problem of eating too much.  We all eliminated carbohydrates from our diet and commenced eating large quantities of meat, cheese, cream, nuts, and vegetables (the one upside).  Our days were filled with eggs and bacon and our nights were filled with steak dinners and creamed spinach.  And then we started losing weight. Weird how that happened.


I guess the point was that we were eating too much.  And eliminating an entire class of foods from your diet has a way of working in the short term.  Beyond, it is true that you cannot eat as much cheese when you don’t have crackers and you can’t eat as much sauce when you don’t have potatoes or rice to soak it all up.  But there came a point where I could work around anything.  Mashed potatoes were replaced with mashed cauliflower or turnips (with copious amounts of cream and butter).  Desserts had crusts made of crushed nuts and butter, rather than pastry or graham crackers.  And vodka and club soda replaced wine or beer.  Please don’t ask me about the time I made crackers OUT OF CHEESE to SERVE WITH CHEESE.


At some point, you think to yourself that maybe this whole eating plan is about as balanced as Rush Limbaugh riding an elephant side saddle.  But I guess every time you embark on one of these diets, you learn something, don’t you?  I think there were lessons to learn about eating more vegetables and cutting way back on sugar and refined carbohydrates.  Those concepts had merit.

(The cabbage soup diet, however, taught me that it fucking sucks to eat cabbage soup for every meal.)

I much prefer our balanced, seasonal, local, and whole foods approach to eating now.  I never really think about diets any more.  Maybe I think that I need to cut back, or that I overindulged, or that we have eaten out too much recently — but I rarely consider eliminating entire food groups (Unless you consider tequila a food group.  And even then, that never lasts that long.)


However, one thing that has remained with us long since Dr. Atkins has left is spaghetti squash.  If you haven’t had it, you should give it a try.  Once cooked, you fluff it with a fork and it separates into strands of “spaghetti.”  It is wonderful just roasted in the oven and served with a bit of butter and garlic.  My kids really enjoy it and it is not heavy or rich at all (like acorn or butternut squashes).  It is neutral in flavor and takes on any sort of sauce.  In this recipe, I baked it and then stuffed it with a homemade tomato and sausage mixture — which was really delicious.  And just to prove to you that I’m over the low carb days, I think it should be served with a big, ridiculously thick piece of garlic bread.

Stuffed Spaghetti Squash with Sausage

Serves 6

1 medium spaghetti squash
1 small green pepper, chopped
1 small red pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lb. ground pork, or loose pork sausage (can remove it from casings if that is how you have it)
15 Roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or about 4-5 cups)
Sea Salt, Freshly Ground Pepper
Olive Oil
1 t dried fennel seeds
1 t dried oregano (or Italian Seasoning)
Red pepper flakes
Freshly grated parmesan cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Rinse spaghetti squash and dry thoroughly.  With a sharp chef’s knife, remove stem end.  Split squash in half lengthwise.  (Being very careful that the squash doesn’t roll out from under you — I like to poke my knife in and then bang on the knife a bit to cut it further.  Then remove and repeat until the squash is split in half.)  Using a spoon, scrape squash seeds out and discard.  Drizzle squash halves with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place halves cut side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 45-50 minutes until tender.  (Poke a sharp knife in the skin and it should go in without resistance.)

2.  While squash is baking, in a large saute pan, heat a bit of olive oil.  Cook loose pork sausage until browned.  Season the sausage with 1 t salt, pepper, fennel, oregano, and red pepper flakes (to taste).

3.  Add in chopped peppers, garlic, and onion.  Saute until softened, about 5-7 minutes.  Add in chopped tomatoes and simmer sauce for about 30 minutes.  Taste and season as needed.  Set aside until squash is done.

4.  When squash is tender, remove from oven and turn halves right side up.  Using a fork, scrape the squashes in order to fluff up the strands of squash.  Place two cups of the tomato/sausage sauce on each half, cover with grated parmesan cheese, and return to 400 degree oven for about ten minutes. You can broil the halves for a minute or two if you like the parmesan browned.

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