Teeny Tiny Meatballs, Marinara, and Spaghetti Squash
Kids love small bite sized things and they love meatballs! My kids love to eat them with toothpicks. This recipe is easy to make and it is one of their favorites!
Start this first as it takes the longest to cook. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds, and place it in a 13 by 9 inch baking pan with a little water in the bottom (cut side down).
Bake squash for approx 45 min to 1 hour (depending on size) until tender. Remove the squash with a fork (it scoops right out in “spaghetti-like” strands. Place in a bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.
For the mini meatballs:
1 lb of grass-fed ground beef
1/2 small onion diced very very fine (I use a mini food processor-my kids do not like big chunks of onion. Also the smaller pieces of onion help hold more moisture in the meatballs)
2-3 cloves of garlic finely diced as well
1 TBS coconut aminos
1/4 cup dried parsley (or fresh chopped)
sea salt and pepper to taste
I used the standing mixer with the meat hook. Mix everything and then roll into tiny (1/2 – 3/4 inch in size). I like to make them small because they cook super quick under the broiler with no need to turn them! The kids love that they are bite sized. Put the meatballs on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Now by the time these are all mixed and rolled out the spaghetti squash should be about done cooking. Take that out of the oven and turn the oven to broil and move the oven rack to the highest level (only a couple inches from the top).
The meatballs cook super fast…no more than 5-8 minutes per batch and there is no need to flip them. One pound of meat filled about 3 large cookie sheets, so I did them in 3 batches (rotating 2 cookie sheets because that is all I have).
For down and dirty quick marinara there is a jarred sauce that I fall back on. It’s difficult to find a jarred sauce that does not contain vegetable oils, soy oil, sugar, or preservatives. You don’t want any of that in your sauce! However, my local Hannaford supermarket has an organic marinara with just tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, basil, salt and pepper. I fall back on that when I think of this meal last minute and don’t have time to make a sauce from scratch.
homemade marinara with cans (look for organic with BPA free cans-I use Muir Glen brand)
2 (28 ounce cans) of either whole plum tomatoes or crushed tomatoes
1 medium onion diced
3-5 cloves of garlic crushed
fresh or dried basil and parsley
2 bay leaves
1 pound of grass-fed ground beef (optional-for a bolognese sauce)
brown the meat (if using it) with the onions in a dutch oven over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 1-2 hours (longer for deeper flavor). I like to add a splash of extra virgin olive oil at the end, and remove the bay leaves. If using the whole tomatoes you may want to blend the sauce with a hand held immersion blender or blend in the blender to break it up (for a less chunky sauce/more smooth sauce).
***Homemade sauce from scratch-oh yeah!!! *** (best option)
Approx 12 fresh plum tomatoes
My kids like their spaghetti squash and sauce next to their meatballs. I usually serve with some kind of greens on the side. Tonight we had salad greens.