Spaghetti & Meatballs, with Grain-Free Spaghetti

Heirloom Tomatoes

By Cat, Oct 2018 (Photo right, from Wikimedia Commons)

Spaghetti and meatballs has been a favorite for me since childhood, though not something my parents knew how to make. Dad had a friend in Great Falls, Montana whose wife was Italian. They came to Bigfork every year for vacation, and she brought a big batch of her homemade dish to give to us.

I’ve always used spaghetti pasta when I make this dish, but this recipe (from Mercola (1)) that uses thin-sliced carrots and zucchini instead of pasta sounds interesting. As usual, I’ve adapted some of the ingredients for my own preferences. I’ve not yet tested this version.

Of course, you could use real spaghetti pasta; cook it according to package directions.

See als0: 1. Casserole menu; 2. Italian meatballs (Polpette)

Spaghetti and Meatballs with Grain-Free “Spaghetti”

Mercola’s article makes a case for de-seeding the tomatoes and zucchini, and also removing their skins to avoid gut issues otherwise caused by the lectins  in the seeds.

For the:

  • Tomatoes: skin, de-seed, and then crush them.  You can do this one step at a time (using a spoon or small scoop to remove their center where the seeds can be found), then crush them with a fork. Or do it all in one step using a food mill (see photo, below).
  • Zucchini, either:
    • use a spiralizer that removes the seeds, or
    • manually peel and deseed the zucchinis, then cut them into thin strips using a knife, slicer or mandoline (see photo, below). It may take a bit more effort, but the results are surely worth it.”
  • Carrots, cut into thin strips using a knife, slicer or mandoline.
  • Pork and beef: The original recipe calls for minced “Organic, Free-Range” meat. I am more specific because I seek out:
    • ground beef from local farmers/ranchers who raise and finish them in pasture; and
    • ground pork from local farmers/ranchers who raise them free-range and may also share quality leftovers with their pigs – mostly from 4-H kids who raise their pigs with lots of love.
  • Cooking oil, the original recipe calls for coconut oil, but avocado oil is better to use for frying, and is also authentically Mediterranean.

Referenced equipment: Food Mill (from Wikipedia), and Mandoline (from Lehman’s (2))

Food Mill (Moulinette)







This recipe may look tedious and complicated because of all the detail, but altogether, it only takes about 40 minutes. Time from start to finish:

  • Total prep Time: 3 minutes (I’ve divided these tasks between the sauce, meatballs, spaghetti, and serving, but you can do them all at the same time);
  • Cook Time: 36 minutes;

Serves 4 (or more). (1)

Ingredients & Equipment

  1. Tomato Sauce:
    • 2 Tbsp coconut or avocado oil
    • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
    • 2 cups organic chopped/crushed tomatoes, deseeded and peeled
    • 8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  2. Meatballs:
    • 4 Tbsp coconut or avocado oil
    • 2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves
    • 1 shallot, finely chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 12-oz organic free-range pork mince (or ground)
    • 4-oz pound organic free-range beef mince (or ground)
    • 2 Tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
    • 1 egg yolk, from local, free-range hens
    • Unrefined sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  3. Vegetable Spaghetti:
    • 3 large Organic carrots
    • 6 Organic zucchinis, deseeded, and peeled
    • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  4. For Serving:
    • 1 large handful of flat-leaf parsley or basil leaves, finely chopped
  5. Equipment:
    • Saucepan
    • Cast iron or other oven-proof fry-pan
    • blender or immersion blender (optional)
    • mandoline or veggie slicer


  1. Tomato Sauce:
  2. Prep:
    • Tomatoes: Peel, de-seed, and crush them (or use a food mill to do all at the same time)..
    • Garlic: peel and thinly slice the garlic.
    • Basil: wash then slice the fresh leaves.
  3. Heat 2 Tbsp coconut or avocado oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
  4. Add garlic and fry for 30 seconds, or until lightly browned. Pour in the prepped tomatoes and ½ cup of water, then simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until sauce has thickened.
  5. Add sliced basil and simmer for two minutes longer.
  6. Season with salt and pepper. Optional: for a smooth sauce, blend it in your blender or with an immersion blender.
  7. Keep warm and put to the side for meatballs.
  8. Meat Balls:
  9. Prep:
    • Spinach: trim away the stems, wash and drip-dry the leaves, then slice them.
    • Shallot and garlic: chop fine; set aside together.
    • Parsley: wash, drip-dry and chop finely
    • Pork and beef: mince or grind the meat (if not already ground)
  10. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  11. Melt 1 Tbsp of coconut or avocado oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add spinach and cook for two minutes until just wilted. Drain the spinach and leave to cool. Once cool, squeeze out any excess liquid, roughly chop and transfer to a bowl.
  12. Return pan to medium heat and add 1 Tbsp of coconut oil, prepped shallot and garlic. Fry for three minutes or until the shallot is translucent and the garlic is lightly browned. Set aside.
  13. In a large bowl, mix minced/ground pork and beef, spinach, shallot and garlic, parsley, egg yolk and some salt and pepper until well combined. Roll into golf ball-sized portions and set aside.
  14. Heat 2 Tbsp of coconut or avocado oil in a large ovenproof frying pan. Add the prepped meatballs and fry until golden on one side. Turn the meatballs over and place the pan in the oven for 5 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through.
  15. Remove pan from oven, add the tomato sauce, cover and keep warm.
  16. Vegetable Spaghetti 
  17. Prep:
    • Carrots: wash, peel (if desired), then cut into spaghetti strips using a mandoline or slicer
    • Zucchini: peel, deseed (using a small spoon or scoop), then cut into spaghetti strips using a mandoline or slicer
  18. Fill a saucepan with water and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  19. Add prepped carrots and cook for 30 seconds, then add prepped zucchini and cook for another 30 seconds, or until tender.
  20. Drain, toss with a splash of olive oil and season with salt.
  21. Serve:
  22. Prep: wash, drip dry, and finely chop the parsley or fresh basil leaves.
  23. Divide spaghetti between four serving plates;
  24. Top with meatballs and spoon on the tomato sauce
  25. Garnish: sprinkle with prepped parsley or basil and serve.


  1. Pete Evans recipe on Mercola’s website:
  2. Image from Lehman’s:



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