Once filled with the spirit of Halloween, it’s hard for me to imagine not making food inspired by the stripes of candy corn or with the risk of a gory hand rising from the depths of a bowl of dip to grab an unsuspecting double dipper. It really is the one time of year to let whimsy take over and delight diners with the fright of it all.
My inspiration of late has been a healthier twist to Halloween meals. I find my Trick-or-Treaters do best braving the hours of candy gathering and usual chill with something filling eaten beforehand. Just because it’s filling and healthier doesn’t mean it can’t be fun!
At the risk of being cliché, I’ve let the traditional colors of black and orange be my muse for these healthier recipes. Last year I made a Pumpkin Chipotle Cream Pasta Sauce that was devilishly delicious. I decided to go on a hunt for another variety of pasta, this time seeking a ‘pasta noir’ option.
When I was in college in Santa Cruz California, there was a restaurant, India Joze, that would hold a Calamari Festival every August. The creativity of the dishes was unbounded. They served a wonderful variety of ethnic cuisine and wound it all into this month of the squid. It was the first time I’d had black pasta dyed with squid ink, as well as dishes colored with squid ink (which creates a very unappetizing visual palette of gray but tasted delicious). I knew with a will I’d find a way; but gluten-free?
Though I found squid ink dyed pasta on my search, none that was gluten free. I did however discovere something new that completely piqued my curiosity; gluten-free Black Bean Spaghetti. I love black beans and never imagined they could be made into pasta. I ordered some online and immediately knew what I would be making: Diablo Eyeballs with Black Bean Pasta. Think of a taco presented more like spaghetti and meatballs, but scary and spicy!
As a mini review on the pasta, I was impressed. It holds its structure beautifully (the peril of gluten-free pasta I’ve found), and has a ‘normal’ pasta flavor, nothing overly beany. It’s organic, vegan, kosher and touts 25grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber (vs the normal 5-6 grams protein and 2-3 grams fiber). For this dish it was perfect as it was more like Angel Hair pasta in its size giving the look of Witch Hair with the Devil Eyeballs, don’t you think? It worked perfectly with the Mexican-inspired flavors of the meatballs.
These Mexican-seasoned meatballs may be made with any ground meat preferred. I selected turkey both for a healthier option but frankly because I loved the idea of the anemic color for an eyeball! Trying to incorporate most aspects of a taco in some way, instead of bread crumbs the meatballs use crushed corn tortilla chips. These meatballs use red tortilla chips, again for the ‘ick’ factor but any tortilla chips will work.
For this recipe I wanted lightly dressed pasta with some spicy flavor but to allow the meatballs to be center stage. A tomato-based sauce, perhaps mixed with some salsa to stick with the Mexican-flavor inspiration, would also be great. Since ground turkey is a leaner meat, a sauce would keep them moist as with a traditional spaghetti and meatball dish. The ‘eyeballs’ could also be served with toothpicks as an appetizer without pasta.
- 1 ½ Ground Turkey
- 1 Egg
- ½ cup crushed Red Tortilla chips (best if run through a blender, food processor or chopper; other types of corn tortilla chips may be substituted)
- 1/3 cup finely grated Mexican-blend Cheese (either purchased mix or equal parts Cheddar, Monterey Jack and Cobly cheese)
- 1 envelope Taco Seasoning*
- 10-12 Stuffed Green Olives (stuffed with pimentos or red peppers), halved horizontally forming a circle with a red ‘pupil’
- 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
- 3 tablespoons Jalapeno Chile pepper, finely diced
- 1 tablespoons Garlic cloves, finely diced (approximately 2 large cloves)
- 1 package Black Pasta (Spaghetti, Angel Hair or Fettucini)
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet, or two, with parchment paper or cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, combing the ground turkey, egg, crushed corn tortilla chips, cheese and taco seasoning. Mix well with hands to fully incorporate.
- Roll meat mixture into 1 1/2-2 inches balls. Make an indentation with your forefinger deep enough to insert an olive half. Place an olive half, with the uncut side down, into the meatball. Ensure the cut side it flush with the edge of the meatball (the meatballs shrink when cooked and the edge of the ‘eye’ will stick out if not inserted so the cut edge is flush with the edge of the meatball).
- Bake for 10-15 minutes or until no longer pink in the center. Note: turkey is a very lean meat so if overcooked it can before dry. Check the meatballs at 10 minutes and allow to cook longer if necessary.
- In a large skillet of cooking pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add the jalapeno and garlic. Saute for 2-3 minutes until very fragrant and garlic begins to turn golden. Turn off heat.
- Add the pasta to the oil mixture and toss to fully coat.
*the spiciness is created by the taco seasoning you select. Should you wish more heat, you may add a bit of cayenne pepper or chile pepper flakes to heat them up.