AIP-Friendly “Spaghetti” and Meatballs

July 20, 2013 in Categories: by

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AIP Spaghetti and Meatballs-1 copyOver the past year and a half of my autoimmune protocol journey, I have frequently lamented over the fact that spaghetti and meatballs are not something I can enjoy anymore.  Not that I ever really missed noodles (I was always happy with paleo substitutes), but the flavors of traditional spaghetti sauce I definitely missed (yes, tomatoes).   As I became more and more creative experimenting with recipes for The Paleo Approach, I discovered that what I really missed in pasta sauce was the umami flavor that tomatoes bring.  It isn’t about the look of spaghetti sauce for me so much as the flavor.  So, I started experimenting with ingredients to replace that umami flavor.  Well, when you start approaching spaghetti this way, something wonderful happens.  And in this dish, the simple addition of black olives does the trick.  Okay, the bacon helps too.

One of the secrets to this meal (yes, beyond bacon and black olives) is the use of fresh spices.  And lots of it!  It might seem like a whole lot of oregano and basil going into this dish, but trust me.  Measure after chopping.

When making this spaghetti, you’ll want to salt your spiral-cut squash noodles first before you start assembling the rest of your ingredient (you could use a vegetable spiraler or you could julienne on a mandoline slicer, both kitchen tools that I absolutely love!).  Thiss is also really tasty with spaghetti squash as a base if you’d prefer).  The meatballs and the sauce/noodles take about the same amount of time to cook.

Serves 4-5.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4-5

Ingredients (Meatballs):

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.  Line a baking sheet with tin foil, parchment paper or a silicone liner.
  2. Combine ground beef, salt and oregano and mix to thoroughly combine (I find this easiest to do with my hands).  Form meatballs (I made mine about 1 1/2″ in diameter, which gave me 24 meatballs).
  3. Bake meatballs for 12-15 minutes, depending on size.

Ingredients (Spaghetti):

  • 3 lbs summer squash (such as zucchini)
  • 1 Tbsp salt (to salt the squash)
  • 12-16 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 8-10 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups whole black olives (or about 1 cup sliced), about 1 6oz can
  • 5-6 slices thick cut bacon
  • 3/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • meatballs
  1. Use a vegetable spiraler to cut your summer squash into long noodles (I used the thicker blade settings on my Paderno vegetable spiraler).  Place in a colander or strainer and sprinkle liberally with salt.  Place in a sink or in a larger bowl so that it doesn’t make a mess as the squash emits water.  Let the squash salt for about 1 hour.  Rinse thoroughly (you might want to taste it to make sure you got the salt off).  Let the noodles drain then dump out onto some paper towel or kitchen towels to absorb the water (you can place another towel over top and gently press down to squeeze out the excess water).
  2. Cut bacon into small pieces.  Add to a large frying pan or stock pot and turn on the heat to medium high.  Cook the bacon, stirring occasionally until browned, about 7-8 minutes.  Add the garlic and mushrooms.  Continue cooking for 6-8 minutes, until mushrooms are sauteed and starting to brown (if the mushrooms release a lot of water into your pan, turn up the heat slightly to simmer it off).
  3. Add the olives and the squash noodles.  Toss together and cook, stirring frequently, 4-5 minutes until squash is cooked al dente.  Add the basil and cook 1 more minutes.  Toss with meatballs (or just place the meatballs on top of each plate) and enjoy!


I got so excited when I saw this yesterday morning. I am getting a new delivery of grass-fed beef next weekend and this is the first thing I’m making with it. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I do something a little bit different. I found a sweet potato soup from PaleOmg. Ive played with that a bit, and make my “Sunday Sauce” with it. Truly, its not bad

I don’t care for meatballs, and don’t have an oven, so I made meat “sauce” with it instead. I was short on the garlic and mushrooms, and added some onion, which I could have used more of. I also cut some strips of chard (ribs removed) and added that to the pan as I cooked up the vegetables. It was really, really wonderful. I did add just a small bit of vidalia onion vinagrette to the pan as I cooked the “noodles” – which I salted and left in a pan of water in the fridge for a while before draining. I mushed out a lot of water but they cooked up fine, it wasn’t too watery at all. I also julienned a carrot and tossed that in with the zucchini – just for color and a little sweetness. I will definitely make this again – maybe tonight, since I have several zucchini in the fridge. 🙂

Thank you so much for this recipe! We had a family dinner tonight and my mom asked me to cook for myself and my niece. I decided to try this and it was perfect. I used a julienne peeler to make the noodles and it worked perfectly. Incredible flavour combination. I highly recommend this dish and will be making it again.

I wish I could do this. but i am also progesterone deficient and just learned I am supposed to avoid foods containing phytoestrogens (I’m really sensitive). that means no garlic.
damn. this looks good, too.

I was craving spaghetti and meatballs, and really enjoyed this. I normally follow a new recipe to the letter, but this time I didn’t want to use bacon (I was saving it for something else) and didn’t want to go shopping, so I did make some modifications: I used dried oregano (crushed) since that’s what I had, and instead of bacon I used a tin of anchovies, oil and all. I used very low heat throughout to minimize damage to the olive oil that the anchovies were packed in. And I used a small-medium spaghetti squash. I played a lot with the proportions, using just a pound of ground beef and a nearly full jar of black olives which I chopped. I think the recipe should be considered very forgiving as long as you maintain the various flavor/texture components. Don’t be afraid to make it your own. Thanks, Sarah!

I sOoooOo want my dish to look like this. I bought a Veggetti and ruined 2 beautiful garden zucchini trying to make the long strand. I failed, miserably. I am inept. *sigh*. Just send me a plate, plz.

I just made this for dinner and my husband loved it!!! He asked me to make the dish again. Thanks so much for this great recipe

Sounds delicious and healthy! I am compiling a FREE ebook of Spiral Vegetable Recipes. I was wondering if you would allow me to include this recipe and photo in my ebook? I will include a photo credit and link to your site. Please let me know.

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