Over the weekend, on kind of a whim, I learned how to make spaghetti squash and turkey meatballs — a healthy twist on a classic pasta dish. Up until this point, the meals and snacks that I have learned how to make I have planned out in detail ahead of time: first, I decide on what I want to make that week, then I spend quite a bit of time researching, trying to find a quality, but easy-to-follow recipe. Then, before I go shopping, I look through my fridge and cupboards, making a list of all the ingredients that I need. And finally, once I have all the ingredients, I start cooking. This meal, however, was very spur-of-the-moment. I was in the middle of grocery shopping with my mom when I across a Tasty video for spaghetti squash and turkey meatballs. I showed my mom the video and her response was “That looks delicious, you should try it!” So, we bought the ingredients, we went home, and I started cooking. That was that.
Cost For Ingredients:
- Spaghetti squash – $4.13
- Olive oil – $0 (had at home)
- Salt – $0 (had at home)
- Pepper – $0 (had at home)
- Marinara sauce – $1.47 for one jar
- Ground turkey – $12.00 for 2 lbs
- Parsley – $3.00
- Onion – $1.97 for a bag (I used one)
- Garlic – $0 (had at home)
- Parmesan – $0 (had at home)
Total = $22.57
Overall, this meal was rather inexpensive (and under my $25/meal budget) compared to some other dishes that I have tried during my Learning Project. I did spend a little more than the $19 that the recipe says it will cost, but that’s because I ended up buying and using 2 lbs of ground turkey instead of 1 lbs. There are a few reasons why decided to double the amount of turkey:
- There was a sale on ground turkey at the grocery store — 2 lbs for $12 as opposed to $7.50 per pound.
- My family is very busy during the week with work, school, sports, activities, etc. As a result, we often do a lot of cooking on the weekends so that we have lots of leftovers to eat during the week instead of having to worry about cooking every night.
- My brother loves meatballs — they’re one of his favourite foods. So, I knew that if I was going to make meatballs, I should make a lot of them.
I should note that I did not double the amount of spaghetti squash, only ground turkey (and in turn, some of the spices used to make the meatballs). Instead, I also made a pot of rice so that when the spaghetti squash was gone, we could eat the leftover meatballs with rice. By doubling the ground turkey, it made enough for dinner for my mom, my brother, and I, plus leftovers. If you were going to make the original recipe with the proper amounts of ingredients, I would say that it would be enough to feed two people.
Preparing this meal presented a few challenges/learning opportunities. First, spaghetti squash is an ingredient that I had never cook with before. It was a bit of a learning curve learning how to gut it and cook it, but it actually ended up being super simple to prepare. Second, trying to follow a Tasty video to make this recipe was not easy. For those who don’t know about Tasty, it is a cooking video channel made by BuzzFeed. The thing is, there aren’t people talking in the videos, explaining how to make the recipe. There are actually no words at all — just a time-lapsed, sped up video of someone working through the recipe. Seeing as how I first learned about this meal through the video, I wanted to challenge myself by only following the video when making the recipe. You can check out the video that I used here.
However, after re-starting the video about a hundred times because it was going so fast and I couldn’t keep up, I finally turned to the written recipe that accompanied the video. As a new chef, I’m still not completely comfortable in the working in the kitchen, and the video just stressed me out even more. I found it so much easier to use the written recipe because I was able to work at my own pace instead of having to rush to keep up with the video. Here is how the meal turned out:
Overall, I thought the recipe was mediocre — I found it a bit underwhelming. The meatballs weren’t my favourite. It’s not that they were bad, they were just lacking something, although I’m not sure what that something is. It could have been that there were discrepancies between the recipe in the video and the written recipe; the written recipe that I followed didn’t call for paprika like the video did, so that could explain why the meatballs were a bit bland. I really enjoyed the spaghetti squash though. I was nervous at first about how it would turn out because the uncooked spaghetti squash smelled kind of like pumpkins, so I was worried that I would be eating pumpkin-flavoured pasta, but it actually tasted really good. And, once it was covered in the pasta sauce, you could barely taste the spaghetti squash at all. Has anyone made turkey meatballs before? If so, what do you add to them to give them flavour? I’d love to give them another try.
I’m noticing that at this point in my Learning Project, I’m starting to have fun when I’m cooking, and I’m feeling more adventurous in the kitchen. At first, cooking felt like a chore. This week though, I decided to try this recipe on a whim, unsure of how it would turn out, and I ended up having a lot of fun making it, probably because it wasn’t so planned and structured like all of my other meals. We’re almost half-way through the semester now. I’m hoping that over the next few weeks I can continue to grow as a cook and improve my cooking skills. Stay tuned!