Entrees

Gluten-Free Spaghetti and Meatballs

I had a hankering for gluten-free spaghetti and meatballs one day. Really, I was inspired by this video from Epicurious, which made me want to cook like the pros. I’m also working on an omelet recipe, which this channel also inspired. And grilled cheese. And burgers.

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SKIP TO RECIPE

Anyway, back to the gluten-free spaghetti and meatballs

I learned from my paleo days that you don’t need bread crumbs to make a good meatball. These days, I eat grains, but I try to make sure I only have one kind of grain on my plate to avoid being too full before I get a chance to eat my veggies. So, I find almond meal (which I pick up at Trader Joe’s, but you can make your own up with a Ninja or some other powerful processor) and Parmesan to be my essential meat-binding go-tos, and they work great for gluten-free spaghetti and meatballs. And you don’t need much else than that!

Large skillet filled with browning meatballs

Browning the meatballs is essential, but if you don’t fancy standing over a hot stove while meticulously turning the meat, you can bake them in a greased muffin tin. They won’t have the same crusty texture, but they’ll taste just as nice. Just use a liberal amount of grease for easy cleanup.

SKIP TO RECIPE

San Marzano tomatoes and perfect al dente spaghetti

The sauce for this gluten-free spaghetti and meatballs includes grated carrot, which acts as a nice healthy sweetener that also balances out the acidity of the tomatoes. Speaking of tomatoes, San Marzano tomatoes are the best and most flavorful, and you can find them in just about every supermarket, including Trader Joe’s. Just make sure you take the time to simmer the meatballs in the sauce so they can soak up all that flavor.

Can of San Marzano tomatoes
Box of Barilla gluten-free spaghetti

I use Barilla gluten-free spaghetti, which I’ve been able to find in most supermarkets—I usually find several shelves of Barilla pasta with one section dedicated to gluten-free versions. Cooked to al dente, I think that it tastes no different from semolina pasta, and I may be tempted to say it’s even better. The noodles have a nice slip and texture, so be warned that you might want seconds! And to ensure I get as many seconds as I want, I use an over-the-sink strainer that keeps the water from splashing up into the pasta.

SKIP TO RECIPE

Essential greens and beans

The chickpea kale also included with this recipe is pretty basic—I was looking for a veggie that would be quick and painless because of the heavy lift the gluten-free spaghetti and meatballs can be, and these fit the bill for essential nutrients. You could leave out the chickpeas, though, for an even simpler meal (and use them in another chickpea dish such as a roasted chickpea bowl or Mediterranean buckwheat salad). Just make sure your veggies take up half your plate. I always eat my vegetables first to stave off heartburn brought on by persistent GERD, but you can also take digestive enzyme supplements right before the meal if you have the same concerns I do—I don’t leave home without them.

Skillet filled with kale and chickpeas. A hand is stirring with a pair of tongs.

And a video too!

This recipe for gluten-free spaghetti and meatballs was also the first I did a video for (check out the video at the bottom of this page). I have a ton of photos as a result, and I learned that picture slide shows are much more complicated than live-action casts! It was fun to do, but boy was it time-consuming! I was so hungry by the end! I think I’ll save that style of video for simpler recipes or maybe when I get around to painting demonstrations one day; stick around for that sometime in the next year or so—I post snaps of my abstract food paintings regularly.

SKIP TO RECIPE

Shopping list

Produce

garlic
1 carrot
kale

Eggs and dairy

3 eggs
grated Parmesan cheese

Meat

1.25 lb. ground beef

Tools

medium mixing bowl
large lidded skillet
tongs
vegetable grater
large saucepan
wooden spoon
large lidded pot
pasta spoon
colander

Nuts and seeds

almond meal

Oils and spices

black pepper
salt
olive oil
balsamic vinegar

Canned goods

1 can (14.5 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 can chickpeas

Grains

1 lb. gluten-free spaghetti


Meal prep options

Meatballs, spaghetti, sauce

Just a note

I want to eat spaghetti and meatballs all my life.

Make this …

Vegetarian: Leave out the meatballs.
Paleo: Use zoodles instead of spaghetti; leave out the chickpeas.
Gluten-free: It already is!
Non-dairy: Leave out the Parmesan cheese.


Gluten-Free Spaghetti and Meatballs with Chickpea Kale

Serves: 6
Total time: 1 hour

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes

Ingredients and preparation

Meatballs

1.25 lb. ground beef
2 cloves garlic: Peel and mince
1 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp almond meal
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp dried onion
3 eggs
2 tbsp olive oil

Sauce

1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic: Peel and mince
1 carrot: Grate
1 can (14.5 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp dried onion
2 tsp dried basil
1 tbsp kosher salt

Pasta

1 lb. spaghetti
1 tbsp kosher salt

Chickpea Kale

2 large bunches kale: Rip off leaves into bite-size pieces and rinse
1 can chickpeas
1 clove garlic: Peel and mince
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp balsamic vinegar

Instructions

  1. Mix all the meatball ingredients except the olive oil together in the mixing bowl. Form the beef mixture into 1-inch balls. Heat the olive oil in the skillet on high. Add the meatballs and brown on all sides (about 10 minutes). Turn off the heat, and keep the skillet covered while you prepare the sauce in the next step.
  2. For the sauce, heat the olive oil in the saucepan on medium high and sauté the garlic and grated carrot until the garlic is fragrant. Add the tomato sauce and canned tomatoes, and heat on medium-high while stirring. When the sauce starts to bubble, turn down the heat, and stir in the dried onion, basil, and salt. Add the meatballs, cover the pot, and simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. For the spaghetti, fill the pot with water, and boil. Add the salt and then the spaghetti, and cook according to package instructions until al dente.
  4. For the chickpea kale, wipe out the skillet, and heat the olive oil on medium-high. Sauté the garlic until fragrant, and stir in the chickpeas. Add the kale, and sauté until just slightly wilted. Turn off the heat, and stir in the salt, pepper, and vinegar.
  5. Serve the spaghetti topped with the meatballs and some sauce and a sprinkle of Parmesan. Place some chickpea kale on the side.

Check out the video:

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