Living abroad for the past year and a half has had some pretty substantial ups and downs. Ultimately, it has been a fantastic adventure and one that I never expected to have as an adult with a “big girl job” and a serious relationship. While living here, we have had the opportunity to visit 13 different countries (for fun!) thus far, some multiple times. I have had the opportunity to gain international business experience working with some notable clients and live out my dream of becoming a barre instructor in the best little studio ever. I have had the opportunity to meet some pretty awesome people, hear some crazy accents and expressions, and taste some totally different things. It has been an experience that I would have definitely dreamt about without believing I would ever live out. #blessed
However, getting established in Ireland was quite a challenge. There was a lot of running back and forth to get through red tape and prerequisites for opening a bank account, finalizing visas, finding a place to live, setting up new phone service, etc. Also, there were a lot of smaller adjustments to be made – like finding places to shop for the basics like toothpaste, shampoo, canned pumpkin, beef gelatin, freeze dried strawberries, kombucha… okkkkkk so maybe not technically just the “basics,” but things I had become quite accustomed to being able to easily find in the States. And although I have now had some success in finding the one store in town which sells tapioca flour, there are some things that just cannot be purchased – period (or as you might hear here – full stop). If it is not in season and reasonably local, it will not be found.
Or they can be purchased at a PRICE. Last year, I remember being so excited to finally see cherries at a grocery store that I quickly snatched up the one and only bag on the shelf. At the checkout my jaw dropped as I was asked for 22 euro for about 1 pound (450 g). I asked if the price was always that high and the cashier told me it would probably only rise over the summer IF they got them again. I grimaced as I handed over the cash and told her I would cherish each and every one accordingly. This year thankfully, the cherries seem to be slightly more available and I was recently the recipient of a big box of the juiciest ones I have ever had thanks to the very generous Julette Jones.
Although not nearly as expensive, I have only ever seen spaghetti squash (pumpkin spaghetti) twice since living here and both times have enthusiastically picked up more than I could comfortably carry home with me. But when you have something as delicious as these meatballs with tomatoes and cashew cream sauce to go with it, it was totally worth it. Whole30 and paleo with a spicy kick and decadently creamy cashew topping, this meatball and spaghetti combo is magnifico! If you can’t find this unicorn spaghetti squash where you are, you can also used spiralized zucchini/zoodles/courgetti or another pasta alternative or just eat the meatballs with sauce. Easy and quick enough for a weekday dinner which will also heat up well as leftovers, that is if you have any leftovers to be had.
- Raw Cashews 1 cup (120 g)
- Water .25 cup (60 ml)
- Crushed Red Pepper .5 tsp (can adjust to taste preferences of course)
- Salt .5 tsp
- Pepper .5 tsp
- Spaghetti Squash 1 each
- Olive Oil to drizzle
- Ground/Minced Beef 1 lb (400 g)
- Minced Garlic Clove 2 each
- Almond Flour .25 cup (28 g)
- Egg 1 each
- Dried Basil .5 tsp
- Dried Parsley 1 tsp
- Oregano 1 tsp
- Crushed Red Pepper .25 tsp
- Plain Tomato Sauce/Passata 1 cup (250 ml)
- Plain Canned/Tinned Chopped Tomatoes 14.5 oz (400 g)
- Small handful of Fresh Basil, roughly chopped
- Olive Oil 1 tsp
- Start by soaking the cashews in a small bowl with enough water to cover for at least 4 hours or up to overnight. The longer you allow the nuts to soak, the creamy the final consistency.
- Drain and rinse the cashews, then add to a blender with the water , crushed red pepper, salt and pepper and blend until smooth and creamy. Adjust seasonings to taste.
- Preheat the oven to 375 F/190 C.
- Carefully cut off the stem end of the squash.
- Score the squash by slicing it vertically with a paring knife to start.
- Starting in the middle of squash and using a chef's knife, slice through the squash to the end and then back to the middle down the other side.
- Scoop out the seeds and then drizzle the insides with olive oil.
- Place the squash in a baking pan insides down and bake for about 45 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least five minutes.
- Using an oven mitt to hold the squash and scrape the insides out with a fork to remove the spaghetti like strands.
- This can be prepared in advance and kept refrigerated to speed up the process.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F/180 C.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the egg and then add the ground beef, minced garlic, almond flour, dried basil, parsley, oregano, and crushed red pepper. Mix well to combine.
- Heat a cast iron skillet (or another pan which can be transferred to the oven) over medium high heat and add 1 tsp olive oil to the pan
- Scoop the mixture into heaping tablespoon size meatballs (there should be about 14 - 16) and then add the meatballs to the pan being careful not to overcrowd
- Brown the meatballs on both side, carefully flipping about 2 minutes per side.
- Pour the tomato sauce/passata, chopped tomatoes, and fresh basil over the meatballs and transfer to the oven.
- Bake the meatballs for 30 minutes.
- Scoop the spaghetti squash (or alternative pasta option - zoodles are also great!) onto the plates, add meatballs and a couple scoops of the tomato sauce. Top with the cashew cream and sprinkle extra crushed red pepper and/or basil as so desired.