Low Carb Spaghetti and Meatballs

So my new year resolution is to keep things simple!

I think there is a yearning when life is complicated to keep things simple. But truly as I get older I find I yearn for simpler flavours, easy dishes, uncomplicated stuff in general. I realise I need less material things and chasing after the next trend is rather tiring as it’s a lot of effort for very little real returns. So yes, the word is to SIMPLIFY.

I know too that I have friends who are not cooks who find low carb or keto cooking intimidating, and my dear husband appears to send his newly diabetic patients to check out my blog, so I’m increasingly aware that I need to simplify my recipes to make them more accessible.

One of the great things about simplifying is that it sometimes comes out of necessity. I just came back from our year end family trip to Japan. Wherever we head as a family, we tend to land in AirBnBs as these allow me to cook and get my holiday therapy. But cooking on holiday also means that I have to travel without my 37-spice pantry and so I’ve learned to keep it really simple when I travel. This time when I packed I only brought 3-4 spices – 1 bottle of salt (I was trying to use up some smoked salt that was gifted to me), 1 bottle of Cajun seasoning (absolutely versatile and tastes good in everything) and a little packed of dried oregano. So trust me, my meatball recipe is extremely simple compared to what I would usually do at home, but this tastes truly good enough so that you don’t have to run to the supermarket and you are able to work with pantry basics.

The only caveat however is that you need to have almond flour in your pantry. Most meatballs use breadcrumbs as a softening and binding agent (or you would get meat rocks and not meat balls). Almond flour works really well for this purpose and it gives a decently textured meatball. I kind of think of almond flour as a pantry staple for people on low carb diet. It is a universal substitute for flour and it’s reasonably flavour neutral to act as a binder, unlike coconut flour which, well, just tastes coconutty!

Anyway about cooking on holiday – the first AirBnB we landed in was modern, beautiful, and well furnished, but good golly they were kind of under-equipped from the kitchen perspective. The plates and bowls were dessert-sized and there was no colander or even large serving bowls. There was a single saucepan and pot. I got a little desperate. I think the landlords just expected us to make instant noodles! But anyway kid#1 had a penchant for visiting thrift stores in almost every town we visited so I did find a decent clean and new saucepan for $7! Of course after that I had to lug it back all the way to Singapore…

Sautéing the meatballs in my thrift shop saucepan!

So we ended up with a beautiful meal in the end – spaghetti and meatballs; the spaghetti we had brought from home was a box of black bean spaghetti from Explore Cuisine. We could of course have used shirataki noodles since it was Japan but I had made the effort to pack it in our luggage so we used it in the end.

Our simple dinner on the coffee table – yes there were no placemats, so we used a towel, and we had to squat around the table!

Low Carb Spaghetti and Meatballs

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 500 g minced beef
  • 4 tbsp almond flour
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/2 onion, chopped finely
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning
  • 3 tbsp oil

Meatball sauce

  • 2 cans chopped tomatoes
  • 4 slices of bacon, cut into smaller pieces
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp sugar substitute
  • 2 tbsp oil

Method

  1. Mix the meatball ingredients (minced beef, onions, almond flour, salt, Cajun seasoning and egg) together.
  2. Roll the meat mixture into one inch balls. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Heat up the oil in a skillet and fry the meatballs, turning on all sides till evenly browned on the outside, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from pan. The meatballs may still look slightly pink in some parts but this is fine as the meatballs will be cooked further in the sauce.
  4. In another saucepan, heat up 2 tbsp oil and stir fry the bacon till it renders the grease.
  5. Add the chopped onions and garlic to the pan and sauté further till the onions are translucent and slightly caramelized.
  6. Add the meatballs to the saucepan, followed by the chopped tomatoes, salt, pepper, sugar substitute and oregano. Simmer for about 10 – 15 minutes. Adjust the seasoning as different canned tomatoes have different astringency and tanginess and may need a little more salt or sugar substitute.
  7. Serve hot with shirataki noodles or some low carb pasta.