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Italian Meatballs with Kabocha Squash Sauce

Posted Dec 09 2009 11:46am

Serves 2-4 (8-12 meatballs)

This is a terrific rendition of basic Italian-style “red sauce” replacing the tomatoes with roasted winter squash. Herbed meatballs are the highlight. The meatballs in sauce can be served alone or atop fresh or cooked vegetables. Feel free to make a double or triple batch.

Cooking Tip: To mimic the binding qualities of eggs (usually found in meatball recipes) you can use ground flaxseed to do a similar job. This also goes for breads and baked goods. Rule of thumb: replace 1 whole egg with 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tablespoons water.

1 medium kabocha squash, or any variety winter squash
1 medium onion
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 bay leaf
1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt (check sodium content of stock!)

1 pound ground meat or vegetarian alternative
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed, or 1 egg
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon each: dried, thyme, oregano, basil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the squash in half and place face down on a sheet pan. Slice the onion in half lengthwise and cut the root end off. Place the onion halves face down onto the pan. Roast for 45 minutes and remove the onions to cool. Check the squash; i it’sf still a bit hard, place back into the oven and roast another 15 or so minutes. The squash is done when soft to the touch.

While the squash is cooking, prepare the meatballs:

Mix all the meatball ingredients in a large mixing bowl, using your hands to blend well. Roll into 1- or 2-inch balls. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

When cool enough to handle, remove the skins from the onions. Chop the onions. Remove the seeds from the squash and measure out 2 cups of flesh.

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped roasted onion, garlic, dried herbs and pepper. Saute for one minute, then add the 2 cups squash, stock and vinegar. Stir to mix and break up any large chucks of squash with the back of a wooden spoon. Add the meatballs and bay leaf.

Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occassionnaly, until the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce has reduced by about a third.

Remove the bay leaf and stir in the salt; add more salt or balasmic vinegar to bring up the flavors, if needed.

Food photos by Jackson D. Carson

Copyright Alison Anton. 2009. All rights reserved.

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