In my ongoing quest to find tasty, kid-friendly food appropriate for the whole family, this week I chose a healthy twist on a traditional kid-friendly dish -- meatballs and spaghetti squash. I found the recipe in "The Digest Diet" by Liz Vaccariello (Reader's Digest Association Inc., $24.99).
Meatballs and Spaghetti Squash
(Makes 4 servings)
-1 spaghetti squash ( 1 3/4 lbs), halved lengthwise and seeded
-3/4 cup quick-cooking oats
-1/2 cup fat-free milk
-1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
-3/4 lb. extra-lean (95%) ground beef
-1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
-1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
-1 large egg
-1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
-1 onion, chopped
-1 can (14.5 ounces) no-salt-added diced tomatoes
-1/2 cup water
-1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1. In a large steamer basket set over a pan of simmering water, steam the squash halves, cut-side down, until tender, about 18 minutes. When cool enough to handle, scrape the flesh into strands with a fork. Keep warm.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the oats, milk and salt. Let soak for 10 minutes to soften.
3. Add the beef, 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the parsley, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, and the egg to the oat mixture. Mix until blended. Form into 16 balls and place on an oiled rimmed baking sheet.
4. Preheat the boiler.
5. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5-6 minutes. Add the tomatoes (with juice), water, and pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 5 minutes. Keep warm while you broil the meatballs.
6. Broil the meatballs 5-6 inches from heat just until browned and firm, 5-6 minutes. Remove from the broiler and add to the tomato sauce and cook, covered, for 5 minutes.
7. Divide the squash among 4 plates and top with 4 meatballs and one-quarter of the sauce. Sprinkle each serving with 1/2 tablespoon each Parmesan and parsley.