I really love a deeply meaty pasta sauce.
There is something about lusciously simmered tomatoes mixed with browned chunks of beef (or pork in this case) and a sprinkle of fresh herbs that is just irresistible. To the point that I would almost rather eat the entire pot of pasta sauce rather than deal with those pesky noodles getting in the way. Waiting for them to boil is just too much.
A spoon will do. Thank you.
But when you add the delicate strings of spaghetti squash, which turn and tumble around a fork just like spaghetti should, suddenly, the sauce gets elevated to a level I didn’t think was possible. It sticks to every cylindrical inch. It slops and slurps. It fills a whole bowl with a veggie heavy meal. Which translates to a lot of food and no guilt.
I think I’m going to make it for lunch again today.
And here’s how you can too:
First, bake your squash. Rake out the “noodles” and let them cool. Remember how we did that?
Then, as your squash bakes and cools, start your sauce. In a small pot, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and when it is sizzling, ad 5 cloves of chopped garlic and a 1/4 teaspoon of whole black peppercorns. Cook until the garlic starts to soften and brown, about 5 minutes and then add 1/2 cup of no-salt added tomato sauce.
Stir and mix and bring the sauce to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to very low and add 1/2 cup of chopped tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes) as well as some dried basil and oregano (or even a 1/2 teaspoon of a salt-free pasta herb mix). Cover the pot with a lid and continue to warm and reduce the sauce.
Meanwhile, start making those meatballs. I used 1/4 pound of pork and I added a tablespoon of salt-free pasta herb mix directly to the meat, kneading the spices into the meat with my hands until it was well distributed.
And because I am a real sucker for keeping messes to a minimum, I rolled my mini meatballs directly in the paper package that the butcher used to wrap my meat. How’s that for brilliant?
Then, remove the top from the sauce pot and add the meat balls to the sauce. Let them sit in the sauce for a bit so they firm up and cook. Then, gently stir them in the sauce, covering the meatballs in all that delicious tomato stuff happening. And place the lid back on the pot, letting the meatballs slowly simmer.
In order to distract yourself from the intoxicating smells coming from the sauce pot, direct your attention now to the spaghetti squash. In a skillet, heat a second tablespoon of olive oil and when hot, add a couple handfuls of spaghetti squash. (Place the rest in tupperware and refrigerate or freeze for another pasta night).
Add fresh herbs to your spaghetti squash–like roughly chopped basil, oregano, or even marjoram and thyme–and let it cook and sizzle in the oil for 5 minutes.
Finally, once your mini meatballs have cooked through, it is time to add the sauce to your spaghetti. Pour the meatballs and sauce directly into the pan and gently mix until there is sauce everywhere.
Serve warm. Sprinkle with chili pepper flakes if you like. And try to share with others.