Is it okay to admit that cooking at home every night has gotten a little boring? And time consuming. If someone else would just invent the nightly menu, that would be a start. If you feel the same way here is a menu I think you will like. Remember there is nothing wrong with combining a little convenience with a little homemade to create a dish you can call your own and still get to watch the nightly news – should you be such a martyr.
For me that favorite dish is meatballs with a rich tomato sauce. The convenience comes from a jar. Pick your favorite tomato sauce and doctor it a little or not. Make your meatballs ahead of time and here is an easy idea – bake the meatballs instead of the usual mess of skillet browning and then just dump them in the sauce. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper and clean-up is minimal.
The revelation is that when those meatballs are in the oven, a halved a spaghetti squash can bake right along-side. That’s about perfect – a handy little spaghetti bowl no pasta pot in sight. If you haven’t tried spaghetti squash you should. The cooking is mindless, cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, add a little olive oil and salt and pepper and it’s “oven ready.” Let the squash cook for 30 to 40 minutes and there is your instant container for delicious meatballs and tomato sauce. I made turkey meatballs but beef or chicken is fine. Garlic, panko, an egg and a little seasoning is all it took. They were in the fridge and ready to bake early in the day. That gave me an afternoon to clean out closets, get rid of final holiday decorations, and organize some cabinets. HA! That did not happen. That meant time to laze around and finish a book. Perfect – we all deserve it. Enjoy!
1 lb ground, beef, turkey, or chicken
1/3 cup panko or dry bread crumbs
¼ cup buttermilk or cream
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese – divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp each, dried oregano and basil
½ tsp garlic salt ½ tsp kosher salt
24 oz jar favorite pasta sauce
1 spaghetti squash
Optional: Basil and extra parmesan for garnish (And because they are delicious)
In a large mixing bowl, soak panko in buttermilk while you assemble the remaining ingredients.
Add meat to the bowl along with egg, parmesan, garlic oregano, basil and salt.
Mix with your hands and form into meatballs about the size of a ping-pong ball.
Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper until ready to bake.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut squash in half horizontally and remove seeds with a spoon.
Drizzle the inside with a little olive oil and salt and pepper if desired.
Heat pasta sauce according to directions.
Bake squash in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until strands can be scraped with a fork.
Bake meatballs 25 minutes broiling the top if you want a darker finish.
Fill each squash “bowl’ with meatballs and sauce.
Garnish with basil and cheese.