My 4-year-old previously meatball-loving child, has recently decided, in fact, she does not like meatballs any longer. Or tomato sauce. My husband does not like spaghetti squash. And I am trying to cut back on my carbs just a smidge. In short, dinner is becoming harder and harder to coordinate. So when I made sweet and sour meatballs for the first time recently and they were devoured, I knew we had a winner.
I served these meatballs with simple roasted spaghetti squash for myself and some rice for my husband and daughter, so everyone was happy.
Variation: If you want to cut the sugar in this recipe, you can reduce to 2 Tbsp brown sugar, or replace with honey or stevia. If you want to remove a sweetener all together, try pureeing 1 whole, peeled carrot in a food processor. While sauteing the onion, add the pureed carrot, which will add natural sweetness.
Special thanks to this recipe from Kosher By Gloria for inspiring this post.
Sweet and Sour Meatballs with Spaghetti Squash Recipe
1 spaghetti squash
For the sauce:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion
2 garlic cloves
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup brown sugar OR 1 Tbsp stevia OR 1 carrot, peeled and pureed in food processor
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp fresh orange or lemon zest
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup water or broth (vegetable or beef broth)
For the meatballs:
1 lbs ground beef
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
To cook the spaghetti squash: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a fork, prick the squash all over. Place on a baking sheet and cook 30-40 minutes until soft. Allow to cool slightly. Cut squash in half, scoop out the seeds, discard. Using a fork, remove the spaghetti squash flesh. This step can be prepared 1-2 days ahead.
To make the sauce, add 1 Tbsp olive oil to a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook onion 4-5 minutes until soft and translucent Add garlic and cook another 2-3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, brown sugar (or sweetener or honey), lemon juice, citrus zest, vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook on low while preparing meatballs.
To make the meatballs, mix together bread crumbs with cinnamon, ginger, salt and pepper. Add ground beef and mix gently. Add 1 beaten egg and mix until full incorporated.
Using the palm of your hands, gently roll tablespoon-sized meatballs taking care not to pack too tightly or “smush.” If you want to be more precise, use a cookie scoop to measure.
Place all the meatballs in sauce and simmer on medium-low heat for 45-50 minutes covered.
Serve warm with spaghetti squash, rice or noodles.