Spaghetti Squash With Chicken Meatballs And Basil Tomato Sauce

When it comes to preparing a recipe, it is only natural to be lured into cooking one that is a little naughty. We see wonderful food on the covers of magazines and on food blogs that is very tempting. I cook naughty occasionally and might prepare something like my classic Italian Sunday feast…pasta with a sauce cooked with a variety of meats and sausages and topped with whipped basil ricotta. It is one of my husband’s favorites and something that his mother served when he was growing up. Most of the year, I try to cook nice, heathy dishes like this spaghetti squash with chicken meatballs and basil tomato sauce. Naughty or nice, I have to say that both meals are delicious.

I’m not going to tell you that spaghetti squash will ever replace pasta in our home but the twirl-able, spaghetti like strands of this vegetable makes an excellent alternative when you want a healthy dish while trying to loss a couple of unwanted pounds. Serving the spaghetti squash with a tomato sauce that is simmered with chicken meatballs made with fresh basil and sun-dried tomatoes…is a healthy and delicious meal.

Spaghetti Squash And Chicken Meatballs Marinara
Spaghetti Squash With Chicken Meatballs And Basil Tomato Sauce

Spaghetti Squash With Chicken Meatballs And Basil Tomato Sauce

Spaghetti Squash

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

One squash will serve two people so plan accordingly. Carefully cut the spaghetti squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Place on a baking sheet, drizzle the insides with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 45 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of the squash. Remove from the oven and let cool enough to handle. Take a fork and scrape the flesh into pasta like stands and place into a bowl. Drizzle with a little olive oil, season with salt, pepper and a little grated cheese.  Keep warm until ready to serve.

Basil Tomato Sauce

  • 1 – 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c. dry white wine (optional)
  • 4 cups of basic tomato sauce* or canned whole tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil** to added later, plus some extra for garnish
  • Basil leaves for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan and cook the garlic until it becomes fragrant and just starts to turn golden. Add the wine (if using) and let cook until reduced by half. Add the basic tomato sauce, the dried basil, salt and pepper. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Keep warm.

*My basic sauce was made from fresh summer tomatoes that I grow in our garden each summer. I cook and then freeze the sauce in quart containers to use throughout the year.  This particular sauce was made from yellow and orange tomatoes and had a very sweet tomato taste . You can read how I prepare the basic sauce in the link above.

Chicken Meatballs With Basil And Sun Dried Tomatoes

  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 1/2 c. fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 onion, chopped fine
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • 2 Tbsp. minced sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil)
  • 2 Tbsp. grated cheese (I used Pecorino Romano)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 tsp. each of garlic powder, salt and pepper
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp. olive oil

Mix all the ingredients (except the oil) together and form into small meatballs about an inch and a half in diameter. Heat a nonstick sauté pan and add the oil. When the oil starts shimmer, add the meatballs and brown well on all sides.

When meatballs are brown, add to the tomato sauce and let simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the chopped fresh basil** to the sauce and stir.

When ready to serve, put a serving of spaghetti squash on each plate, top with some of the chicken meatballs and a couple of spoonfuls of the marinara sauce. Garnish the dish with some chopped fresh basil and basil leaves. Serve the remaining sauce at the table along with some grated cheese.

****

I’m sure you are wondering what my husband thought of the spaghetti squash with chicken meatballs and basil tomato sauce. He loved the meal and said that he would enjoy having it anytime of the year. Of course, don’t ask him to give up his Sunday feast. I can be naughty and cook it occasionally but we will be nice and eat healthy meals for most of the year .

Buon Appetito!

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174 thoughts on “Spaghetti Squash With Chicken Meatballs And Basil Tomato Sauce

    1. Hi Mandy, Sorry to hear that you don’t get spaghetti squash. Of course, you could just have the chicken meatballs with sauce and a small portion of pasta. Thank you for your nice comment.

  1. This dish looks so tasty. I made spaghetti squash once but only served them with a rather plain marinara and the results didn’t seem worth the effort unlike what you’ve presented here. It may all be due to those juicy meatballs. 🙂

    1. Thank you Boleyn, for your nice compliment. I think one of the things that needs to be done with the squash is to make sure it is seasoned with well even before adding the sauce and meatball. I’m glad you like the dish.

    1. Hi Rosemany, It is funny…my husband read my post before I published it and said again how great the meal was. It goes to show that we can have healthy meals that are delicious and still have the great feasts occasionally as they are special. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  2. The first time I ever had spaghetti squash my grandmother in California prepared it for us on our first trip out to see her from Texas. My sister and I really liked it because of the fun factor of the strands. I wish she would have only added some tomato sauce and some chicken meatballs. This dish looks wonderful.

    1. Thank you Karen, for your nice compliment. I think the trick to making spaghetti squash taste great is proper seasoning. Adding the tomato sauce and chicken meatballs made it all the better.

  3. I have never tried Chicken meatballs but that may be a nice change – usually I make my meatballs from turkey. Shhhh……..don’t tell Mr. Picky Eater because he thinks he doesn’t like turkey! 🙂

    1. Hi Kelli, I think you will like chicken meatballs. I did a post last year about them with an Asian flair. You made me laugh with your comment about Mr. Picky Eater…too funny. Thank you for your comment and the smile you started me off with today.

    1. Thank you Emil, for your nice compliment. I love the fresh smell of basil…I have one on the windowsill that I used for this recipe. It sacrificed a lot of leaves in the making of this recipe. 🙂

  4. As my Culinary Enthusiast left the house this morning, he reminded me it’s my turn to cook dinner tonight. So, thank you! I now know exactly what I’m going to make. Your dish looks so fresh and appealing, tasty and satisfying, not to mention gosh-darned healthy. I can hardly wait to leave work for the market (and I haven’t even gotten to work yet)!

    1. Thank you Marlene, for your nice compliment. I’m happy to have inspired your dinner plans and hope you and the Culinary Enthusiast will enjoy the meal.

  5. We must have been reading the same magazine…or maybe it was a blog post. I don’t remember, but I’ve been wanting to try the spaghetti squash….eventually…when it fits in my budget.

    1. Hi Julien, My inspiration came at the market when I was staring at the winter squashes. I’ve had spaghetti squash that was bland and thought that there must be a way to prepare it better. This turned out great…my husband and I both loved it. The squash doesn’t cost much here and one made enough for two large servings and some left over. Thank you for your nice comment.

  6. There is not a one of your recipes that don’t entice me. This is another one I will have to try as it includes spaghetti squash which I happen to like but don’t know how to prepare. I actually have some leftover turkey/tomato sauce in the fridge which would probably work on the squash and make for an easy dinner tonight.

    1. Thank you Linda, for your lovely compliment…I really do appreciate it. The hardest part to preparing the squash is cutting it…you just have to be careful. Your turkey/tomato sauce would go great on the squash.

  7. Three things I love about this recipe — the sun-dried tomatoes in the chicken meatballs sound savory and perfect, I can almost taste the homemade sauce with sun ripened garden tomatoes from here, and the fresh basil has me longing for summer with my toes in soft dirt trimming leaves from my basil plants for dinner. Wonderful!

    1. Hi Judy, I guess I should thank you three times over…I really do appreciate your compliment. I was thinking about summer when I got my tomatoes out of the freezer. I’ll be planting tomato and basil seeds in March.

    1. Hi Beth, I’m glad that I could supply you with a new recipe using spaghetti squash. I think you will really enjoy this meal. Thank you for your nice compliment.

    1. Thank you Deborah, for your nice compliment. This would be a great meal for your diet. I was just commenting on your brussels sprout recipe as you were commenting on this recipe. Small world.:)

  8. Yumm Karen! I’ll never give up my pasta but do make spaghetti squash quite often, mostly mid week, saving pasta for Sunday dinner which is always served earlier in that day so I figure it gives me more time to work it off! These meatballs sound fabulous with the sundried tomatoes!!

    1. Hi Linda, I think it would be almost impossible to give up pasta but the spaghetti squash was a great substitute in this dish. The meatballs were great and paired well with the flavors in this dish. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  9. I agree with you – it´s about finding a balance between naughty and nice, This is both as I bet it tastes naughty but in reality is healthy! Haven´t made chicken meatballs for ages, thanks for reminding me how good they are 🙂

    1. Hi Tanya, Life is all about balances…I’m glad you agree. I like using chicken in meatball for a change…they went well in this dish. Thank you for your nice comment.

    1. Hi Betsy, I think you will like spaghetti squash. It would never totally take the place of pasta in our home but it is delicious. Its pasta like strands work great with sauce. My husband and I really enjoyed this meal. Thank you for your compliment.

    1. Hi Little Sis, I’m glad you like this meal. I don’t know why we don’t eat more of the spaghetti squash either…it was terrific in this dish. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  10. You wouldn’t be interested in shipping a dozen of those squash to Mexico? We have not seen any here for three years now!! And…we LOVE almost anything with a spaghetti squash base!

    1. Hi Mad Dog, I appreciate your nice compliment. I’m glad you like the dish as I think it was a real winner. Sorry to have made you hungry. Well…maybe not as you do it to me all the time. LOL.

    1. Hi Celia, I agree with you about the squash taking up a lot of space. I’m sure that where there is a will there is a way…you have great gardening skills.

    1. Hi Uru, I appreciate your lovely compliment. Many people are under the impression that if it is healthy it won’t taste good. I think this meal will hopefully change their mind.

  11. It smells … Italy all the way over there … that sauce is full of it. I don’t think I ever done anything with minced chicken or turkey … not anything we do in Sweden and I never had it on a menu neither. Lamb meatballs .. they are good. Can do that with this sauce .. brilliant. So sauce goes on file – and the photo is just so appetizing.

    1. Hi Viveka, I know that beef, pork and seafood are more popular than chicken in Sweden. How could my chicken meatballs compare to your country’s famous Swedish meatballs.:) I love lamb meatballs and they would go well in my sauce. Thank you as always, for your nice compliment.

    1. Hi Johnny, Thank you for your nice compliment…the meal was delicious. I think we both live in the “sticks” as far as the availability of food sources are concerned. I have to travel about 20 minutes to my closest market (which is new) but they are now carrying a nice selection of products that I couldn’t find before. There are many items I see on food blogs that I know I will never find in my area.

  12. We often substitute Spaghetti squash for spaghetti and I love it. But my JT is a typical guy as well and won’t say no to it, but prefers the actual pasta kind. I love the meatballs in this dish, they look and sound so incredibly flavourful.

    1. Hi Eva, I don’t think spaghetti squash can ever replace pasta. I do think that its pasta like strands are a nice alternative to enjoy with certain sauces when you want to watch calories or carbs. I think you would enjoy the chicken meatballs…they do have a lot of flavor. Thank you as always for your nice compliment.

  13. I agree with you, Karen, that spaghetti squash will never replace pasta on my table but it certainly is a healthy dish that will adds some variety to my diet. Your marinara sauce sounds quite flavorful and I bet your meatballs are, too. I love that you’ve added minced sun-dried tomatoes to them.

    1. Hi John, We totally agree…a vegetable is a vegetable and pasta is pasta. But…the pasta like stands work great when you want to enjoy a meal with less calories and carbs. Believe it or not, if you sat at our table and had this meal, I know you would enjoy it. My husband who grew up like you, thoroughly enjoyed it and said he is looking forward to it again. Thank you for your nice compliment…it is always appreciated.

    1. Hi Larry, I’m glad you like the meal.I’m surprised that a good gardener like you won’t try spaghetti squash. The only thing it has in common with pasta are the strands after it is cooked…but I know you will like it.

    1. Hi Suzanne, Thank you for your compliment. The squash tastes like a vegetable but has the look of pasta, twirls like pasta, and sauce tastes great on it. My husband and I thought everything about the meal was great.

  14. I am another one with quite a few lovely recipes for spaghetti squash and no place to buy it. Have to do the rounds of the supermarkets again to ask. Love your chicken meatballs: will certainly use sundried tomatoes in the mix next time around!! And should be making my own tomato sauce at the moment also, but 43 C in the shade at 10 am does not lead one into the kitchen: no air conditioning unfortunately – usually no need for it . . .

    1. Wow Eha, That is like 110 F in the shade. I’d definitely be eating my tomatoes raw and not making sauce either. When the weather cools off, try the chicken meatballs…I think you will enjoy them. Thank you for your compliment.

  15. For some reason, I have never been a fan of spaghetti squash, but this recipe could make me a convert. Healthy, pretty, and it sounds delicious. Thank you, Karen.

    1. Hi Victoria, I’ve had the squash when it was just steamed and it didn’t have a lot of taste. I seasoned the squash well with salt, pepper and grated cheese before topping it with sauce. I think you will like the meal. Thank you for your lovely compliment.

  16. Good looking dish! I’ve never made meatballs from chicken — I should definitely give this a try sometime. I really like your inclusion of sun dried tomatoes. Such a nice touch! And great flavor, I’ll bet. And it’s always fun serving a nice Italian red sauce over veggies. Spaghetti squash is a natural, of course, but sometimes I just dish it up over sauteed or roast eggplant or zucchini — in which case, of course, there’s no pretending there’s any pasta substitution going on! But a great red sauce goes so well with so many flavors other than pasta that it’s a shame not to spread the deliciousness around. 😉 Good post — thanks.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, John. I do think that you should try using chicken in meatballs…it makes a nice change. You are right about Italian red sauces being good on other vegetables…eggplant being one of my favorite. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  17. What a great way to pretend we’re eating naughty when we’re not! This sounds like a crowd pleaser and a tummy tamer all in one. Love the addition of sun-dried tomatoes…they provide such a boost! And then, there’s that fresh basil, helping us pretend its soon summer. Really nice!

  18. Looks great, Karen! I like the addition of sun-dried tomatoes in the meatballs. I am looking forward to giving this a try! I love spaghetti squash, the hubby is not so keen on it but he will eat it. I hope to get some with our Winter CSA share.

    1. Hi Angie, I’ve made chicken meatballs before and they are a nice change of pace from pork…definitely healthier too. Thank you for your comment.

    1. Hi Anneli, Thank you for stopping by for a visit and your nice compliment. I’m glad you liked the dish. I’m happy that you visited so that I could find your blog as well.

      1. I for sure have to try, it’s quite hard finding fresh spaghetti squash here, which I think is funny because they make a lot of desserts with it. I’ve seen it already prepared, with lots of sugar, but never fresh. It’s going to be my new task to find some fresh so I can try your “spaghetti” and meatballs! 😉

      2. Hi Carla, I find it so interesting that the squash is used in desserts. I think you will enjoy the recipe if you can find fresh spaghetti squash.

  19. Both of your meals look delicious. And I agree – if you’re eating “nice” most of the time, there’s nothing wrong with an occasional “naughty”!

    1. Hi Norma, It sounds like you are well on your way to making this dish. It is nice to know that spaghetti squash freezes well. Thank you for your nice comment.

  20. Hi Karen! I loved your Sunday feast and I’m loving this one too 😉 I have to find the name of this spaghetti squash in Spanish, so I can ask for it at the supermarket. Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work with the diet 😉

    1. Thank you Giovana, for your kind words. I hope you can find out what the squash is called in Spanish as I think you will enjoy preparing it. The cookies and truffles from the holidays are gone, so no more temptations in the house. I need to be able to fit into my summer outfits so I have plenty of motivation.:)

    1. I really appreciate your kind words and compliment, Cuban. Thank you for stopping by to visit my blog. It is always nice to welcome another reader from London. I have many cuban friends as I used to live in Miami. I think you would smile if you could taste my black beans.

    1. Hi Ducky, I really think you would enjoy chicken meatballs. I posted another recipe last year with Asian flavors, as well. Thank you for your nice comment.

    1. I’m glad you like the chicken meatballs, Sophie. They are a delicious alternative…it is nice to have a change every once in awhile. Thank you for your nice compliment.

    1. Thank you Chris, for your nice compliment. This meal is a great alternative to our usual Italian meals. It will definitely be prepared again…even when I’m not wanting to lose a couple of pounds.

  21. Oh dear, how is Santa going to figure ou which list to put you on this year? Then again, he does like his cookies! That’s a bit naughty don’t you think? Lol! I remember the first time I had spaghetti squash. I was so surprised that the flesh really did come out like noodles. Definitely agree that although yummy, it will never completely replace pasta in my kitchen.

    1. Hi Ruth, love your comment…Santa may have trouble trying to figure out what list to put me one. I’ll alternate this dish with some of my more typical Italian dishes and keep him on his toes. LOL.

    1. Thank you Joanne, for the nice compliment. My husband and I really enjoyed this meal…we didn’t feel we were giving up anything using the squash instead of pasta.

    1. Hi Paula, I totally agree with you. We had all the wonderful flavors of a typical Italian meal but with much less calories involved. I appreciate you nice compliment about both meals. Have a lovely weekend as well.

  22. Nice idea Karen. I eat so healthy during the week that weekends are made for sinful foods. I’ll save this recipe for when I behaving. I love spaghetti squash and am always looking for different ways to use it. Thanks for posting this recipe.

    1. Hi Lea Ann, I’m glad you like the recipe. I’m like you…I like to eat healthy for most of my meals so that I don’t have to feel guilty when I want to have a more indulgent one. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  23. Karen, I must admit that I have never cooked spaghetti squash, it is not really available around here. Actually, you can only find this versatile vegetable at the green grocers in fall when squash and pumpkin are in season. But I have always been amazed at how this squash will turn into beautiful and healthy spaghetti looking strands. I will certainly keep your recipe and the preparation in mind and surprise my family in fall with this lovely dish! Thanks for posting it!
    have a wonderful weekend!

    1. Hi Andrea, I do remember seeing all the wonderful squash and pumpkins that were at the markets when we were in Germany this fall. I think you will enjoy spaghetti squash…it doesn’t have a lot of flavor of its own which makes it perfect with a sauce. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Have a great weekend as well.

  24. Karen, I absolutely love the edginess of spaghetti squash. You are amazingly creative!! I have never thought of chicken meatballs either. What a great change of pace. Sort of like chicken Parmesan with a twist! Everything looks delicious!! I wish WP would make a super like or love button 🙂

    1. Hi Judy, Thank you so much for your kind words. This turned out to be a great meal that I’ll be repeating. I’m glad you like it…I appreciate the nice compliment.

    1. Hi Natalia, I so glad that this post was timely. I think you will enjoy using the spaghetti squash. The squash was terrific in this recipe. It doesn’t have a lot of flavor on its own so remember to season it well. Good luck with cutting out the carbs…my husband has to watch his as well.

  25. This is such a lovely, homely meal that everyone in my family would love. I’ve never made spaghetti from squash and I’m curious to try it. I just love the sound of these meatballs – the sun-dried tomates in them would take these to a new dimension xx

  26. Spaghetti squash is a great substitute for pasta when calories are a consideration. I’m happy to eat it all by itself with a little pat of butter and salt and pepper. I wish it was this easy to cut back on calories in some of my other favorite dishes.

    1. Hi Cathy, Spaghetti squash is a terrific low calorie stand in vegetable that went perfect in this dish. It takes some real planning to cut calories and still have a delicious meal…seasoning plays a hugh part I think.

    1. Hi Barbara, My husband loved this meal and said he is looking forward to having it again. If you like spaghetti squash…you will enjoy this preparation. Thank you for your nice comment.

    1. Hi Deb, Thank you for your nice compliment. It is a delicious meal…perfect when you are trying to eat healthy. I hope your readers will enjoy it as well.

    1. Hi Hester, It appears that spaghetti squash is hard to find in some areas of the world. I’m glad you like the chicken meatballs…thank you for your compliment.

  27. I just recently discovered spaghetti squash thanks to my daughter & I love it. When I first cut it open after cooking though I thought I’d bought the wrong kind of squash since it looked nothing like spaghetti but once I started pulling…well all I can say is this is one crazy vegetable!

    1. Hi Diane, I have to agree with you…it is a crazy vegetable. After cooking, scraping and tossing a lot, it looks just like pasta. Seasoned well, it has a nice taste and texture unlike any other squash I’ve had. Thank you for your comment.

  28. I would so love to try this recipe – unfortunately I have never ever seen a spaghetti squash for sale here! I think I will make the meatballs and pair them with zucchini “pasta”.

    1. Hi Afra, Thank you for your nice comment. I do hope that you will be able to find spaghetti squash someday but in the meantime zucchini “pasta” would be great. Enjoy!

  29. I think we are all on the same page this January. I love spaghetti squash and am thinking I’ll maybe just grow one or two in the garden if I can find room.
    This looks very good. I’ve really not done it with meat and sauce yet. I’ll give it a try.

    1. Hi Wendy, I think most of us are trying to eat healthy the first part of the year. I hope you enjoy having the spaghetti squash served Italian style with the sauce and chicken meatballs.

  30. I love using spaghetti squash as my pasta base, especially now since I’m experimenting with eliminating gluten. Do you think the meat balls would hold together without the bread crumbs?

    1. Hi France, I’m sure the meatball will hold together without the breadcrumbs. I use fresh breadcrumbs to lighten the texture in meatballs and meatloaf but I don think they are necessary. I hope you enjoy the recipe. Thank you for your comment.

  31. Just give me a plate of those meatballs! Talk about delicious! Love the addition of the sun-dried tomatoes. However, I of course, love the whole dish and certainly wouldn’t refuse the pasta and that delicious sauce! A great plate of comfort food!

  32. This is the second recipe made from ground chicken or turkey that I’ve seen today. I think it’s a wonderful alternative to the higher fat meats when we’re all trying to watch what we eat after the holidays. The sauce looks delicious! I can’t wait until tomato season again.

    1. Hi Susan, Chicken and turkey are a great alternative when you are trying to eat a little healthier. I’m looking forward when we head up to the summer cottage in Maine and get our garden planted. I’m so glad that I make and freeze quarts of tomato sauce to get me through the snowy winter. Thank you for your nice comment.

  33. Been enjoying spaghetti squash lately. This looks like a delightful combination! I’ve also never had chicken meatballs, but these looks like a nice starting point 🙂

    1. Thank you Samantha, for visiting. I think that you will enjoy the chicken meatballs…they are a nice change from the typical meatball. I appreciate your nice compliment.

  34. I totally adore spaghetti squash! Must admit I usually only use sage and browned butter on it, but love the idea of the meatballs. Will be making this soon, Karen!

    1. Hi Barbara, Browned butter and sage has to be delicious with spaghetti squash. I hope you will enjoy this meal…it is very flavorful. Thank you for your nice comment.

    1. Hi Kristy, Spaghetti squash is a great vegetable because of its pasta like stands…I think it works so well with the sauce. Thank you for your nice comment.

    1. Hi Carolyn, Thank you for stopping by for a visit and your nice compliment. I totally agree…you can never have too many meatball. The freeze so nicely for a quick meal.

  35. My mom has been cooking spaghetti squash since the 80s! She always steams it till just tender, scoops the flesh as soon as it is cool enough to handle and layers it into a casserole dish with plenty of marinara and some cheese on top and then just bakes (20-30mins) until cheese is bubbly and melted! Sometime she adds just a cupful or two of cooked al dente pasta to make it more hearty if company is coming!

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