Chicken and Spinach Meatballs with Spaghetti Squash

Andrew’s and my romance with spaghetti squash began during our chili phase of 2018. More to come on that in another post. It’s a great substitute for pasta/rice/etc. and you can do so many things with it! This recipe was born out of a craving for spaghetti squash and figuring out what was left in the grocery store after the hoarders had pillaged. We found ground chicken and ran with it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 1 jar of pesto (or you could make it homemade if you’re fancy like that)
  • 1 pound of ground chicken
  • 1/2 large yellow (or white) onion, minced
  • 1 bag of “adult” spinach, blanched (NOT baby spinach)
  • 5 cloves of garlic (2 cloves minced, 3 cloves sliced RAZOR thin)
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup of breadcrumbs
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Step 1:

Spaghetti squash takes a long time to cook — anywhere from 50 minutes to an hour plus, depending on how big the squash is — so I’d get that roasting first.

Throw the whole squash in the microwave for 3 minutes on high to soften it up (makes it easier to cut in half).

Cut it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and slimy bits like you’d do with a pumpkin on Halloween! Put both halves in a large baking dish with the inside of the squash facing up (I line the dish with aluminum foil for less mess). Drizzle some olive oil and lightly spread it around over the inside of the squash. Sprinkle some salt/pepper on top.

Mmmm spaghetti squash

Then flip both halves over so the hollow part is facing down and they look like a pair of boobs. Haha remember when you’d write 80085 on a calculator so it looked like BOOBS? Lol, simpler times.

Squash boobs

Bake at 400 for about 50 minutes or until it’s tender enough to pierce the skin with a fork.

Step 2:

Blanch the spinach! Boil a large stock pot of water. Take the entire bag of spinach and dump it in the boiling water and shove it down with a large spoon to make sure it’s all dunked in there. If necessary, put a lid on the pot to bring it back to a boil. Once the water is boiling for about 60 seconds, the spinach should be brighter green and less firm but not mushy or soft.

Pour it all into a colander/strainer. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Once it’s cool enough not to burn your little paws off, squeeze all the moisture out that you can (I wrapped it in a couple paper towels while I was doing this so soak up some extra moisture). If you have a pound of spinach, it should be reduced to a clump the size of a lime.

While it’s all compacted* like this, chop it up into small pieces (about 1/4 inch squares of smaller)

*Whenever I hear the word “compacted” or “compactor” it gives me nightmare flashbacks to the trash compactor in The Brave Little Toaster. Do you remember this thing and how terrifying it was?!

Which Brave Little Toaster character are you? I’m Blankie!

Step 3:

Cook the onion and minced garlic together in some olive oil on low heat just to soften it up a bit — don’t let it sizzle! NO SIZZLING PLEASE.

Step 4:

Mix together the ground chicken, chopped spinach, onion, garlic (all of it — the cooked/minced AND sliced versions), egg, breadcrumbs in a big bowl. If you like a little heat, add in a few dashes of red pepper flakes! Sprinkle in some salt and pepper as well.

Step 5:

Ball up your meatballs, not too big — about the size of a ping pong boll. And fry those suckers in olive oil on medium-high. This part is important! You don’t want to bake them, etc. Frying them creates the Maillard reaction which is where all of the flavor comes from! There’s no fat inside the meat mixture so you need seal in the moisture with this browning process.

Use tongs to turn them so they can brown on each side. Set them on a plate with a paper towel under them as you continue to cook the others.

Step 6:

Is the spaghetti squash done yet? I’ve lost track. Anyway, if it’s done, use a fork to shred out the inside and serve on your plates to create a cozy little bed of squash for your meatballs to rest on. Throw some pesto in and mix it up — you can add some parmesan cheese if you like too!

Step 7:

Serve the meatballs on top of the pesto spaghetti squash and enjoy!

Pairs well with: Supporting our health care workers!

Ok, cheesy PSA moment, but if you feel doing something for the greater good, there are so many organizations out there to get involved with! I helped one of our local hospitals by putting together these care packages for the workers on the Covid frontlines with money that was donated by a non-profit. Whether it’s money, time, crafting skills, cooking meals — whatever you’re willing to contribute, there are ways to help! We’re in it together! xo

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