I recently ate two spaghetti squash dishes that I loved and wanted to find a way to combine and recreate them. One was chicken meatball parmesan with spaghetti squash in a skillet, and the other was grilled shrimp with mixed vegetables with spaghetti squash served in half of a spaghetti squash. The result of my wish is my chicken meatball parmesan spaghetti squash boats! These are so easy to make, I can barely call it a recipe! Other than making the chicken meatballs, I did not even use measurements!
What you will need
- Chicken meatballs (see below for recipe instructions and link)*
- 24 ounces of tomato sauce (I like Rao’s sensitive sauce)
- 1 Spaghetti Squash
- Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
- Spinach (I use frozen)
*I often use a crockpot or instant pot to make my chicken meatballs. This blog specifically explains how to make these using the crockpot. However, I have also made them without the crockpot by baking them at 350°F for 20-25 minutes
Lets start with chicken meatballs
Chicken meatballs are one of my favorite things to make since they are so simple, and can be enjoyed by the whole family. To make chicken meatballs I use the same ingredients as in my turkey burger recipe. I substitute 1 pound of ground chicken instead of using ground turkey and form about 15-20 balls instead of burgers. Before my son was born I used to use lean ground turkey and chicken. However, now when I am cooking for my family I usually use regular ground chicken or turkey because of the higher iron content from the dark meat and because its softer for him which he prefers. Once the balls are formed, line the crockpot with tomato sauce, and then place the balls in the crockpot. It is ok if they overlap. Cover the meatballs with the rest of the sauce in the jar. Set crockpot on low for 3.5 hours.
While the balls are cooking
I recommend starting to prepare the spaghetti squash when there is about an hour and a half left on the crockpot. Pre heat the oven to 400°F. Slice the spaghetti squash in half. This is by far the hardest part of the recipe, and if I am being honest my husband did this part for me. Once sliced in half remove the seeds and stringy orange flesh pieces. Coat with olive oil (I use spray olive oil with olive oil being the only ingredient). Place the spaghetti squash faced down on a baking sheet in the oven for about 35-45 minutes. While the squash is in the oven and the chicken meatballs are in the crockpot sauté spinach stove top in a small amount of olive oil. Once cooked, place spinach to the side. I used frozen spinach, but fresh will work well too! You will know the spaghetti squash is ready when you are able to fork out strands easily. Once removed from the oven fork out the strands and keep them in the spaghetti squash half. Add ~ 3-4 chicken meatballs and some spinach to each squash half (amount of meatballs added will vary pending the size of them). Top the boats with shredded mozarella cheese and place back in the oven for 3-5 minutes (just enough time for the cheese to melt). You will know it is ready when the cheese has melted!
Remove from the oven and enjoy!
Making them toddler friendly
If you have a younger toddler or a toddler that simply does not like their foods touching, put some spaghetti squash to the side to serve a long with their meatballs. You can then melt some cheese directly onto their meatballs or squash too.
Now lets talk about how great the nutrition benefits of this recipe are
Spaghetti squash is a great vehicle (boat) for your protein and veggies. Did you know that in 1 cup of spaghetti squash there are only 42 calories? For this same 1 cup you also get 2 grams of fiber!
I try to hit as many food groups as I can at each meal and recommend that you do too! There are 4/5 food groups covered here in this simple dish! Adding spinach is an easy way to add extra vegetables into this already vegetable heavy dish! Frozen spinach is a staple in my house, and I sneak it into as many dishes as I can. Using oats instead of breadcrumbs is a great way to get whole grains in, and it will increase the fiber content of the chicken meatballs. The chicken meatballs are a great source of protein. Adding shredded mozzarella gives you your dairy fix! I know I said it hits 4/5 food groups, but have some berries after dinner and all food groups will be covered!Try this simple #recipe for #chickenparmesan #spaghettisquashboats tonight! Click To Tweet