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 Supergrain Quinoa Pasta photo by vsimon
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 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.
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.