A hearty gluten-free chickpea meatball served in al dente spaghetti squash boats.
It’s fall and I feel like we’re all about comfort food right now. I know you can relate to getting back into routines of fall, but for me, life has been going a million miles a minute lately. I’m feeling like so much is going on, NS is growing, and my time is being stretched to the max leaving me wanting nutrient-dense food that’s fast, simple, and satisfying. I often talk about how food is far more than fuel in my book; it’s social, it’s comfort, it’s love, it’s fun, it’s all of those things if we manage from a place of balance. So naturally when things get a little crazy and all I want is a hearty, warming bowl of pasta with meatballs…I turn to this one. I thank my mom for inspiring this recipe because she makes a mean spaghetti and meatballs, yet I haven’t had them in like 10 years since being meat free. I hope you get the same enjoyment and nourishment from Spaghetti Squash and Chickpea Meatballs as I have lately!
What is spaghetti squash?
Depending on where you live, you might’ve never had this fun squash before. I hope that you can get your hands on it at least once, especially with this recipe since it highlights the whole “spaghetti thang”. You could guess that just like other squash, spaghetti squash is a great source of fiber (about 5g in 2 cups cooked) and is perfect for when you’re really craving a huge bowl of pasta yet don’t want to go overboard on carbohydrates, which is so easy to do with regular pasta. Spaghetti squash is yellow, which is a good indicator of which antioxidants and vitamins it has (think carrots) and contains vitamin A, C, B vitamins, manganese, copper, potassium, iron, and calcium. The seeds, just like a pumpkin, can also be roasted and used as a topping or garnish if you like. After the squash has been baked, you take a fork and scrape the flesh of the squash starting from the sides towards the middle. This breaks up the fibers (aka noodles) from the squash and gives it it’s famous texture! It’s that simple. Bake, scrape, eat.
The spaghetti squash is one thing…but these chickpea meatballs are on a whole NOTHA level. I first made this recipe,
scratch that, I first attempted to make a chickpea meatball recipe in college and could never get the texture just right. It wasn’t until I started experimenting with putting eggs in the meatball (just like my mom does) that I found the perfect texture. You can make these completely vegan if you like by using a flax egg, or use the 1 egg I highly recommend here.
A couple of things to keep in mind with these chickpea meatballs: traditionally when my mom makes meatballs she’ll bake them for a bit and then pan fry them with a touch of olive oil until they’re crispy on the outside. Then she adds in the marinara sauce and lets them finish cooking and soak up more moisture from the sauce. Since these are completely meat free, you have to think about the loss of fat when cooking which means a loss of moisture without the naturally occurring fat from those animal proteins. No worries, though, since it’s super simple to add in healthy fat from olive oil, use eggs as a binder, and keep the herbs and spices relatively traditional. The chickpeas and nutritional yeast that I use in these meatballs also make these packed with protein!
You can also make this recipe into boats by using the “shell” of the baked squash as a serving bowl! I love making boats out of food… like stuffing sweet potatoes for dessert, filling fresh papaya with more fruit, loading up zucchini with pizza toppings, and now one of my fall favorites–the spaghetti squash!
Other ways to enjoy these Chickpea Meatballs…which I highly recommend you try out:
- Make a meatball sub with bread or low carbohydrate using a lettuce wrap (best to serve the meatballs chilled in this example)
- Ditch the marinara sauce and make them Indian style with my Mint Chutney (trust me it’s crazy good!)
- Crumble on top of a hearty salad for a boost of protein
- Serve as an appetizer with friends and a side of hot marinara sauce for dipping
- Sliced in half for a meatball sandwich
Let me know what you think when you give this recipe a go! Leave a comment and rate it. I love seeing what you come up with so don’t forget to take a picture and tag it #nutritionstripped on Instagram!