Gluten Free Spaghetti and Mushroom Meatballs

gluten free spaghetti and meatballs

Mushroom Meatballs and Tinkyada Spaghetti photo by vsimon

This recipe appeared on the Healthy Eats blog as a guest post. But the post has disappeared, so I’ll recreate it here.

You can sub many things for bread crumbs in meatballs and meat loaf. But my favorite is finely minced mushrooms. They are healthy, low cal, and enhance the meaty flavor.

And if you are into hiding veggies, they will never give you away. No colored specks, they look just like meat.


These mouthwatering meatballs are half meat and half mushrooms. This makes the meatballs so tender, even with the leanest meat. You’ll be sure that many mushrooms won’t mix into the meat, but they will.

You need to be gentle when simmering them in the marinara sauce. Keep the simmer low and don’t disturb them for about 15 minutes. By then the meatballs will be “set” and you can carefully slide a metal spatula under them and turn them.


Use your favorite gluten free brand. I like Classico, we also like the Classico jar with measurements on the side. The website says they are not recommended for canning. But we save them and use them in the water bath canner all the time. (This cannot be a recommendation. Do this at your own peril.)

There are many other gluten free kinds of marinara available. Be sure to read the labels. And you can make your own of course.

Gluten Free Spaghetti

There is an explosion of choices now. I counted 8 different brands of spaghetti in the ever-expanding gluten free section of my regular grocery store today.

What you really want to know is:

What is available in my store?

How can I be sure it is gluten free?

Does it taste, look, and behave like “regular” pasta?

How much is it?

Gluten free is such a hot trend now that Bon Appétit did an article on their top three gluten free pasta brands. Two were from Italy, available online, and very pricy. Seven or eight dollars for 8 ounces, without the added shipping costs. That works out to about $15 dollars a pound. For that price, I prefer to treat myself to really good steak instead.

One brand in BA’s top three is Ancient Harvest Supergrain Quinoa Pasta. No spaghetti in the store today, but they did have linguini. Close enough to give it a test (taste) drive. Suggested retail is 2.99 for 8 ounces. A bargain, sold!

When you open the box, there is a surprise inside. It’s yellow, a combo of quinoa and corn flour. The directions say to cook for 6-9 minutes. Six minutes was truly undone. Eight minutes was perfecto. There is a small window to get this right.

Ancient Harvest Quinoa corn spaghetti

Ancient Harvest Supergrain Quinoa Pasta photo by vsimon

My review

Ancient Harvest Supergrain Quinoa Pasta vs. Tinkyada 

Some will like the sunny color of Ancient Harvest, others may think it is just wrong. The flavor and texture are fine. A few of the strands stuck together and didn’t soften as much as the rest, despite stirring during cooking. Nutritionally, this pasta offers more fiber and iron than other gluten free pastas.


Ancient Harvest Supergrain Pasta comes in two varieties. One is gluten free and one is not- a combo of quinoa and wheat. At first glance, the boxes look nearly the same. My store stocked both in their gluten free section. Oops! And guess which one I grabbed first, bought, and cooked? Double oops! Be sure to thoroughly read the label and buy the gluten free kind.


My old time favorite gluten free pasta is Tinkyada. It is my standby and is in the meatball picture. For a long time it was the only real contender in gluten free pasta. Readily available, reasonably priced, similar in taste and texture to wheat. Made with brown rice and additional rice bran, it is bit paler, softer, and blander than wheat pasta.

And some folks prefer it to wheat pasta. Families with a few gluten intolerants and some not, easily switch to Tinkyada pasta. Suggested retail is $3.96 for 16 ounces. The best deal yet.

Tinkyada takes longer to cook, about 15 minutes. With a bigger window to get it just right. And since it is rice based, even brown rice, it is lower in fiber than Ancient Harvest pasta. Despite being whole grain, rice is pretty low in fiber. Tinkyada has 2 grams fiber per serving, Ancient Harvest 4 grams.

Tinkyada makes only gluten free pasta. So you do not have to worry about buying glutinous pasta. I am going to stick with Tinkyada.

Gluten Free Spaghetti and Mushroom Meatballs

Yield: 6 servings


1 pound fresh mushrooms

1/3 cup chopped parsley

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons dried onion flakes

1 tsp dry mustard

2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning (or a mix of oregano, basil, and rosemary)

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (1/2 teaspoon if you like it spicy)

1 egg

1 pound lean ground beef (90% lean)


24 oz gluten free marinara sauce


8 oz gluten free spaghetti


additional parmesan, optional

Pour marinara sauce in a large sauté pan with a lid. Large enough to hold the meatballs in a single layer. Use two pans if you need to. I like to have the marinara on a low simmer before I shape the meatballs, so I can put them in the sauce as I shape them.

Pulse the mushrooms in a food processor until they are the size of grains of rice. You might have to do this in batches.

In a large bowl, mix up all the meatball ingredients. Your hands work best for this. Shape into 18 meatballs.

Cover and simmer meatballs in sauce for about 15 minutes without disturbing them. Gently turn and cook 10-15 more minutes, or to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Meanwhile cook gluten free spaghetti according to package directions.

Drain spaghetti and place on dinner plate. Top with 3 meatballs and sauce. Garnish with parmesan if desired.

Make ahead

This dish freezes well. I package leftovers in lidded, stackable glass or ceramic containers. I prefer just 1 or 2 servings per container because they thaw and warm faster than larger amounts. Simply pull several containers from the fridge if you need more servings.

Layer spaghetti, then the meatballs, and sauce on top. Cover, date and label each container. Cool thoroughly in the fridge, then freeze. Thaw in the fridge overnight and warm in the microwave for just a few minutes per serving.

Dinner’s ready!

Dried Ground Cherries

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left to right: naked ground cherries, cinnamon raisin dried ground cherries, whole ground cherries with their husks, ground cherry plant 

photo by vsimon

Last year we had 1, this year we 7 ground cherry plants. Some we paid for, some were grown from saved seeds. Some were volunteer plants from last year. This could get out of hand.

A purchase plant was labeled “pineapple ground cherry”, most were simply “ground cherry.” We taste tested each one and didn’t notice any difference in flavor, size, or color. I think the pineapple name is just a marketing ploy.

Vince has already put up 26  jars of ground cherry jam. That is probably enough, even for gift giving. We have also had ground cherry and raspberry crisp. But what to do with this continuing embarrassment of riches? Dry them!! 

We have a super duper commercial quality dehydrator, with a thermostat and a fan. We use it every year for sliced dried tomatoes. Dried until they are thin and crispy, they are easy to crumble by hand into recipes. 

Reasoning, if we didn’t dry them as long, dried ground cherries might be like raisins. They are a similar texture.

We tried drying them whole and halved. Whole took much too long, up to 24 hours. Halved, they are done overnight.

Since ground cherries are not as sweet as grapes, it follows dried ones are not as sweet as raisins.

So they could go either way, sweet or savory. We tried many seasonings. Sugar and cinnamon for sweet. Simple salt and pepper, garam masala, smoked and hot paprika for savory. You can probably think of many other combinations.

The sweets can be summery additions to your breakfast cereal or muffins this fall and winter. The savory ones make good bar snacks. Think of munching on chewy nutless seasoned nuts.

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whole and halved ground cherries with sugar and cinnamon on drying racks photo by vsimon

Sugar and Cinnamon Ground Cherries

These are plenty sweet. As sweet, or sweeter than raisins.

2/3 cup sugar (we used white granulated)

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

8 cups husked ground cherries, halved (about 2.5 pounds)

In a large bowl, thoroughly mix sugar and cinnamon together.

Toss with halved ground cherries.

Place in a single layer on 5 drying racks.

Dry overnight at about 115 degrees. We put the dehydrator outside so it doesn’t heat up the house.

Store in glass containers. Or plastic, if you must. I like to put them in the freezer, they don’t take up much room. It isn’t necessary, I just like to store lots of things in the freezer.

Savory Dried Ground Cherries

Simply halve and sprinkle your choice of seasoning on them. Be careful, a little goes a long way. Start with about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon for 8 cups of ground cherries. They shrink by more than half and the flavoring gets concentrated. You can always add more after they are dry.

What seasonings would you try?

Gingered Beet and Berry Salad

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gingered beet and berry salad photo by vsimon

This is intense.

Intense flavor- sweet and spicy. A cool salad with a hit of hot ginger.

Intense color- red beets and red raspberries.

Intense texture- crunchy grated raw roots.

Intense nutrition- click on each ingredient in the recipe below for in depth information from The World’s Healthiest Foods website.

Garden fresh.

Beets, beets, beets. I ask myself, “What new can we do with the beets, just pulled from the garden?” 

Blue cheese, goat cheese, roasted. Been there, done that. And I have to say, I loved all of it, but I don’t have any cheese today and it is much too hot to turn the oven on for an hour.

And we have so many raspberries. There is a chunk of ginger root in the fridge. OK, let’s see what we can do with these.

Don’t have fresh ginger root?

I respectfully say, “Get some.”

Just a few fragrant gratings perk up anything it is added to, sweet or savory. It isn’t expensive and lasts a long time. A chunk of fresh ginger root in the veggie drawer of the fridge is as useful as jars of pickles in the pantry.  And it is amazingly healthful.

Ginger root grows with finger like projections. At the store, you can break off as much as you need. If you are a ginger virgin, start with a knob just an inch or two long.

Gingered Beet and Berry Salad

serves 4

4 small beets, 1-1/2 to 2” in diameter

1 cup raspberries

2 tablespoons honey

4 crossways slices of ginger root,  each 1/4” thick

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Hold onto the stems of the beets and using a vegetable peeler, remove the skin from the beets.

Grate beets using a box or plane grater, into a small bowl.

Or use a mini food processor. Transfer beets to a small mixing bowl.

I have shaved them using a ribbon microplane. This works too, and you get a softer texture. I prefer more crunch.

In a mini food processor, puree 1/2 cup of berries, honey and ginger root together. Note: this is a lot of ginger. You can start with half as much as the recipe calls for if you are a bit timid.

Add raspberry ginger mixture to grated beets. Mix thoroughly. Chill until ready to serve.

Right before serving, garnish with the remaining whole berries and walnuts.

What is your favorite beet recipe?

What do you do with fresh ginger root?

8-3-2010 This recipe is included in the July Grow Your Own #43 recipe round up at Kitchen Gadget Girl Cooks. Check out what yummy things people around the world are growing and cooking.