The Recipes

"Meat"balls with Spaghetti Squash

Don't be intimidated by the long list of ingredients in this recipe.  The majority of them are for the red sauce, which will make a large batch that you can freeze or keep in the refrigerator.

Does working with tofu scare you?  The meatballs came out quite tasty, and the barley helps make the texture close to what a traditional meatball is like.  However, this is NOT going to taste the same or "satisfy meat-eaters and vegans alike."  I feel like I see that kind of claim made on a lot of vegan recipes, and if you ask any of my rabidly carnivorous friends, in their collective opinion, no vegan recipe will ever truly be as equally satisfying.  What I will say is that this a mighty tasty and healthy recipe, inexpensive, and a good way to work some meatless meals into your week.

What do you think?  Are you willing to branch out, or do you fall in the "meal must have meat!" camp?




"Meat"balls with Spaghetti Squash

Ingredients:

- 1/2 yellow onion, diced
- 1 large celery rib, diced
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 T. tomato paste
- 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
- splash red wine
- 7-8 small tomatoes on the vine
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 14.5-oz. can of tomato sauce
- 1 spaghetti squash, cut in half length-wise
- 1/4 c. bulgur wheat
- 1/4 of a package of extra-firm tofu
- 1 egg, beaten
- handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 4 T. bread crumbs
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. Worstershire sauce
- salt
- pepper
- olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

While you wait for the oven to preheat, start all three components for the dish moving forward: the squash "pasta," red sauce, and tofu.

Place the tofu between clean dish towels or paper towels and weigh it down with a heavy skillet to release excess moisture.

Remove the seeds from the squash (you can set these aside to roast later like you would pumpkin seeds if you like).  Drizzle the inside of the flesh with olive oil and season with salt an pepper.  Place the two halves cut-side down on a baking sheet.

In a large pot, heat 1-2 T. of olive oil.  Add the onion, celery, and carrot and season with salt.  Let the vegetables soften for 13-14 minutes.  This is one time where you really want to let things cook down and develop flavor.

Transfer the squash to the oven and  cook for 45-50 minutes; until you can pierce the flesh with a fork.

While the squash is cooking, move forward with the sauce.  Bring a separate pot of water to a boil and cut an 'X' in the bottom of each tomato.  Salt the water and add the tomatoes.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, then transfer them to a bowl of ice water.  Peel the skins and discard.

And the garlic to the sauce pot, stir for a minute, then add the crushed red pepper and tomato paste.  Stir to combine and "wake up" the tomato paste.  Add in the wine and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot while it cooks down for 4-5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, crushing them lightly with a wooden spoon, then add in the tomato sauce.  Season liberally with salt and pepper.  Let the sauce simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Cook the bulgur wheat to package instructions and cool completely.  Combine the bulgur, tofu, parsley, Worstershire, bread crumbs, egg, dried oregano, dried basil, and garlic powder.  Season liberally with salt and pepper.  Using your hands, roll the mixture into 1-in. balls.

In a skillet, heat a few tablespoons of oil.  Add the meatballs and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side; until they develop a brown crust.  Remove them with  a spatula.

When the squash is cooked, use a fork to scrape the flesh away from the skin.  It will have the appearance of spaghetti noodles.  Plate the squash and top with the sauce and "meat"balls.