“Spaghetti” and Meatballs

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On the upper west side of Manhattan, there is a restaurant called Tolani. The restaurant serves a pretty wide array of foods from Spain, South Africa, Turkey and offers something for everyone. One dish in particular is the Vegetarian’s favorite: Vegetarian Spaghetti and meatballs. In this case however, the spaghetti is actually spaghetti squash and is served with eggplant meatballs and a garlic broth.

While this dish is delicious and all, real meatballs would do it even better justice (in the Carnivore’s opinion). I recently found a recipe on the Kitchn for veal meatballs and a red wine sauce. The sauce is complex and is perfect along side soft, plump meatballs. The Vegetarian enjoyed the sauce previously, as part was removed prior to the meat entering the pot. This dish is no different, except that the only spaghetti will be that off the squash.

Spaghetti squash seems intimidating to prepare, but it’s actually quite easy. You want to cut the squash lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, brush on some olive oil, salt and pepper, then bake (Cut side up) for about 45 minutes at 375. When done, you simply use a fork and scrape the strands and place into a bowl. Serve with butter/herbs or, in this case, with red wine sauce.


Recipe courtesy of The Kitchn
Serves 5-6
Makes about 30 small meatballs (or about 20 medium size)


3/4 cup whole milk (I used lactose free skim plus)
1/2 cup fine dried breadcrumbs
3/4 pound ground beef
3/4 pound ground veal
1 teaspoon chunky kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
Finely chopped sage (about 3-4 leaves) or 1 teaspoon dry
3/4 cups finely diced or grated yellow onion, from about 1 small yellow onion
2 large garlic cloves, finely minced or grated
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs, beaten
Olive oil


1 small yellow onion
6 cloves garlic
Olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
1 cupchicken broth (Or vegetarian to keep Veggie)
32-ounce can whole plum tomatoes
One 4-inch long sprig fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Prepare Sauce:

Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Heat a large, deep sauté pan over medium high heat (or medium side pot, in order to fit sauce and meatballs). Sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil until very soft — about 10 minutes, turning the heat down if necessary.

Stir in the tomato paste and fry for a minute or two, stirring until well-incorporated. Pour in the wine and broth and bring to a simmer, then add the tomatoes, salt, and a generous amount of black pepper. Place the rosemary sprig on top, bring to a simmer and cook for 30 to 60 minutes, covered. When the sauce has developed a deep, rich flavor, turn off the heat and puree with an immersion blender (or in a standing blender) until smooth.

While sauce cooks, prepare meatballs:

Pour the milk over the breadcrumbs in a small bowl. Stir them together and set them aside for at least 10 minutes for the crumbs to soften.

Mix the meats together thoroughly in a large mixing bowl (you can also use pork/veal/beef, then use 1/2 lbs of each). Stir in the salt and a generous amount of black pepper, then add the smoked paprika and cayenne. Stir in the chopped parsley, sage, onion, garlic, and Parmesan. Mix with your hands until these are very thoroughly distributed through the meat.

Stir in the breadcrumbs and milk, as well as the eggs, and mix thoroughly.

Keep meatballs in refrigerator until ready to add to sauce. Alternatively you can shape or keep as large in sealed container for 3 months in freezer.

Cook Meatballs:

Shape meatballs and place into sauce after it has simmered for about 40 minutes. Lower temperature of sauce to achieve a low simmer (medium-low) and cover. Cook until meatballs are not pink inside, about 25-30 minutes. Don’t worry about crowding meatballs or some being on top. after they have cooked about 10 minutes, try and spoon sauce to cover meatballs.

Serve with pasta, polenta, vegetables or spaghetti squash.

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Spaghetti Squash

1 large spaghetti squash
olive oil
heavy bottom pan

Heat oven to 375.

Slice squash lengthwise in half. With spoon, scoop out the seeds and flesh in center. Drizzle with olive oil and a generous pinch of salt and pepper.

Cook for 45 minutes, or under fork tender, cut side facing up.

When cooked and cooled for about 5 minutes, using a fork, scrape the flesh out so it forms the stringy pasta strands. Use your fingers to separate any parts that stick.

Serve with above sauce OR with butter, lots of butter.

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About Evan Halperin

I like to eat. I like to cook. I like to eat what I cook. Now, I will share with you what I like to cook. My wife and I may be a vegetarian and a carnivore, but it doesn’t mean we can’t cook a nice meal with both, without compromising taste. I will share my creative meals of the Carnivore and the Vegetarian.
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