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Spaghetti Squash Meatball Casserole

One of our favorite comfort food dinners is spaghetti and meatballs. We're crazy about this lighter, healthier version that features so many veggies and has the same beloved flavors! —Courtney Stultz, Weir, Kansas
  • Total Time
    Prep: 35 min. Bake: 30 min.
  • Makes
    6 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash (about 4 pounds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (90% lean)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 cups chopped collard greens
  • 1 cup chopped fresh spinach
  • 1 cup reduced-fat ricotta cheese
  • 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup pasta sauce
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Directions

  • Cut squash lengthwise in half; discard seeds. Place halves on a microwave-safe plate, cut side down. Microwave, uncovered, on high until tender, 15-20 minutes. Cool slightly.
  • Preheat oven to 350°. Mix 1/4 teaspoon salt with remaining seasonings; add to beef, mixing lightly but thoroughly. Shape into 1-1/2-in. balls. In a large skillet, brown meatballs over medium heat; remove from pan.
  • In same pan, heat oil over medium heat; saute onion until tender, 3-4 minutes. Add garlic; cook and stir 1 minute. Stir in collard greens, spinach, ricotta cheese and remaining salt; remove from heat.
  • Using a fork, separate strands of spaghetti squash; stir into greens mixture. Transfer to a greased 13x9-in. baking dish. Top with tomatoes, meatballs, sauce and cheese. Bake, uncovered, until meatballs are cooked through, 30-35 minutes.
Nutrition Facts
1 serving: 362 calories, 16g fat (6g saturated fat), 69mg cholesterol, 618mg sodium, 32g carbohydrate (7g sugars, 7g fiber), 26g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 3 lean meat, 2 starch, 1 fat.

Reviews

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  • laurenph31
    Feb 6, 2021

    I made this to-the-recipe, and it was AMAZING. Both kids devoured it, too. I haven't cooked with spaghetti squash in a couple of years, but this recipe has convinced me to work it right back into the rotation. My 7-year-old's face when I scraped it into the dish..."IT'S FULL OF SPAGHETTI!!!" lol Very, very good. A new family favorite.

  • Naomie
    Feb 1, 2021

    Good recipe as written. Will try to address some of the concerns in the comments from the top down. No disrespect intended, just tips for up and coming cooks and those just learning or are unfamiliar with ingredients. Most squash can be watery. Spaghetti squash will become extremely watery if overcooked. To avoid this, I slice the top and bottom off. Then cut in half through the equator. Now place the wide end on your cutting board or work surface. Then slice in half lengthwise. Use kosher salt and sprinkle over the cut side and wait about 20 minutes or so depending upon the size of the squash. Then wipe down thoroughly. Bake at 350° in oven until just tender. Remove from oven. Let cool a few moments. Using an oven glove and fork, shread the squash into noodles. Place on a baking sheet lined with paper towels and let dry. Before proceeding to next step, use more paper towels or clean dish cloth to pat dry ant remaining wet spots. To avoid meatballs being dry, add some milk or cream to the meat when mixing in herbs and / or spices. Other options include minced onions, parsley or other veggies. This recipe specifically states to brown in a skillet. My preferred method is to partially cook and brown in the oven at 350° to use less oil. Do what suits your cooking style best. This recipe specifically states spaghetti sqash, not zucchini. Two distinctly different vegetables. Even if the family isn't "big on vetetables" - still give it a try. How do they know if they don't like something if they have never had it? The reason many don't care for something is because they have never tried it or was improperly prepared. You are at the helm, experiment and try different things occasionally. As to "spices," this recipe call for herbs. Fennel is common in Mediterranean cooking and has been cultivated all over the world. Slight licorice or anise flavor. Coriander are the seeds of Chinese parsley or cilantro as it is commonly referred to in the US. Magnificent flavor and I personally use quite a bit of it. Basil - a commonly grown summer herb, many varieties and I typically grow at least three every year. Oregano, another common herb - many varieties- marjoram, Syrian oregano, Greek oregano, Italian oregano, Cuban oregano, Mexican oregano, Mexican bush oregano, golden oregano. Oregano also has many health benefits as well. All common and readily available at any grocery store, supermarket or higher end food supplier. Look for shops where you can purchase by quantity instead of committing to a jar out of the store. I have several in my area. Especially handy when purchasing saffron for those dishes that require this spice. Playing with food is fun, and his recipe can easily be modified to provide different flavor profiles just by switching out a few ingredients. i.e. red bell pepper for tomatoes, mustard greens or kale instead of collard greens, turkey or chicken in place of beef. Just relax and have an enjoyable time. And if you don't know something or are unfamiliar with something, just Google! I grew up in the days of sight, feel and taste, as well as written recipes when there were no cell phones, tablets or computers at our fingertips to gain instant knowledge.

  • cgh
    Feb 1, 2021

    Great!

  • Connie
    Nov 23, 2020

    It tasted good but it was very watery. I would appreciate any tips on how to make it less so. It could also use more salt.

  • js22
    Nov 14, 2020

    Earlier this week my sister mentioned this spaghetti squash & meatball recipe she was going to make. Then she said she couldn’t make it that night because she didn’t have ricotta. Well I went shopping the next day & spaghetti squash was on sale, and there was a good price on ricotta so I got both! My sister mentioned today she was going to make this recipe tonight and later told me it smelled really good! Well I was all out of leftovers so I asked for recipe. And I made it tonight! I cooked the spaghetti squash in instant pot so that microwave would be free to defrost the ground chicken! So much easier to cut winter squash after it’s cooked! I used ground chicken instead of ground beef and didn’t make the meatballs but just cooked the ground chicken into crumbles. Didn’t have fennel, put in crushed red peppers and a little garlic powder mixed in with the chicken. My oregano disappeared so I used Italian seasoning. No collards or spinach in the house so I made recipe without them. I think they would have added additional Color. Oh yeah, I wanted to cook this In my toaster oven, so I used 2 baking dishes that would both fit inside. This was really tasty & satisfying! I will definitely make it again!

  • Debra
    Jul 9, 2020

    this casserole is absolutely delicious. I actually am a big spaghetti and meatball fanatic. and everybody loves it when I make spaghetti and meatballs. but this casserole has become my new favorite. it's so flavorful and it's so incredibly rich with collard greens and vegetables like tomatoes it's amazing to have this dish. I cannot recommend it enough. it is marvellous and it is lighter but you do not miss the noodles. and I say that as a pasta lover. this is addition its own right and it is wonderful.

  • demandy
    Jun 7, 2020

    We have made this a few times, it’s delicious. Wish it were a bit quicker, perhaps experimenting with cooking the beef and seasonings rather than making meatballs. But it’s worth it, I always wish I had doubled it because we eat it all.

  • Bev
    Nov 12, 2019

    The meatballs look extremely dry! I'd absolutely have to recreate the meatball recipe and cook them partially so they don't overcook in the oven. Other than that, it looks like it has potential.

  • MissCarol44
    Nov 4, 2019

    I watched the video and appreciate it when you show how recipes are done. The only thing I will do differently is buy already made meatballs at our local store as they are delicious. Recipe is a winner already with us and will make it this week! I have gone through your casserole recipes and look forward to making alot of them during the winter months here in the Northeast :) P.S. A thank you to many of the cooks out there who give good inputs to improve.

  • SHOK
    Oct 9, 2019

    I would like to add a hint to those who use this recipe. Do not try to cut the squash lengthwise before it is cooked because it is very hard and you will likely only end up cutting yourself instead! The easiest way to cut it before you cook it is to cut around the middle where the tough ends are not there. This sounds like a good meal to try since we do like spaghetti squash and just froze five gallons of it for later use this winter!