Slow Cooker Turkey Meatballs Over Spaghetti Squash. I have not always been a fan of ground turkey when I was younger! In fact, it wasn’t until I tried a recipe similar to this Delicious Triple Onion Turkey Burgers with Vidalia onion, dry onion dip mix, Swiss cheese, and a lot more that I began to rethink my dismissal of ground turkey.
This Slow Cooker Healthy Turkey Meatballs Over Spaghetti Squash recipe today was born out of the desire for an easy weeknight meal that even kids would not complain about, and that was light. In the middle of all these celebrations and parties, I feel like I need to eat at home in a lighter than usual way. Add to that all the cooking I do during the day for parties, and it has to be easy! But it tasted good. I’m not asking for much.
Make this Slow Cooker Healthy Turkey Meatballs Over Spaghetti Squash recipe during nap time, on your lunch break, or on the weekend in the late afternoon. Then at dinner time, all you have to do is boil pasta or set a spaghetti squash in the oven (my favorite gluten-free option), and your main dish is done. I usually steam or roast some vegetables to go with it, and our evening is drama free.
There are all kinds of options with this recipe, and it’s pretty diet-friendly. If you are watching your weight, this dinner is light but somehow filling. If you are gluten-free, leave out the breadcrumbs, or I’ve even added a tablespoon of ground flax in place of it, and it has worked well. If you are dairy-free, simply leave out the parmesan cheese. If you are not, then, by all means, sprinkle the plate freely with parmesan. Another trick to a great tasting sauce is to add a chunk of parmesan rind to the sauce while it’s cooking and remove it to serve. It’s delish!
NOTE: If you are really short on time, you could use the prepared marinara sauce for this Slow Cooker Healthy Turkey Meatballs Over Spaghetti Squash in place of the sauce made from scratch in this recipe. A good guess is about 70-80 ounces prepared.
Slow Cooker Healthy Turkey Meatballs Over Spaghetti Squash
- 1 large spaghetti squash (about 3 pounds)
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil plus 1 teaspoon
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 1 medium egg
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 ½ teaspoons fresh oregano or parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoon dried breadcrumbs or ground flaxseed or omit for gluten-free (Optional)
- 1 pound ground turkey
- ¼ cup Reggiano Parmigiano shredded (Optional)
- ½ cup any mixed mushrooms finely chopped
- 3 cans or 14.5-ounce crushed or diced tomatoes, or a combination (I prefer Muir Glen fire-roasted)
- 2 pieces bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ¼ cup red wine
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- ¼ cup fresh or 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt to taste
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper to taste
- In a medium bowl, combine the turkey, 1/4 cup of the finely diced onion, egg, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the fresh oregano or parsley, mushrooms, and optional parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs if using. Add a little salt and pepper, and using your hands, mix thoroughly. Set aside.
- In a small saucepan, simmer 4 smashed garlic cloves in 1 tablespoon olive oil. When it becomes fragrant, remove it from heat and add it to the slow cooker.
- Add tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaves, red wine, any leftover onions, thyme, basil, salt and pepper to the slow cooker and stir to combine.
- Form turkey mixture into golf ball-sized meatballs, and place in a slow cooker. “Nestle” them in a little bit, so they touch the bottom of the slow cooker. They should form a single layer.
- Cook on HIGH for 2.5 hours or on low 4 to 6, depending on your slow cooker. When the meatballs are cooked through, it’s done.
- If you would like to serve over spaghetti squash (highly recommended, it’s SO good!) about an hour before dinner, have your oven pre-heated to 375°F. Cut open squash the long way, and scoop out seeds. Season the cut sides with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place them cut sides down in a baking dish with about 1/- inch of water in it. Bake for about 45 minutes or until tender. Remove from the oven and baking sheet, and allow to cool. Cut sides up on a cutting board or some other surface until they are cool enough to touch. You want them still to be warm for the best taste. Scrape the flesh of the squash into strands using a fork. Let drain, and keep covered to keep warm in a colander over a bowl, or serve immediately.TIP: While the oven is on, you could add some other vegetables to roast. Just toss with olive oil and salt and pepper, and lay on a baking sheet in a single layer. Most vegetables take between 25-45 minutes. We’ve done green beans, asparagus, cauliflower and many other kinds this way!
- Divide squash (or pasta) and meatballs with sauce onto plates. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese if desired.