Given my cauliflower pizza base post was so well received a couple of months ago, I felt I just had to back it up with a gluten free/carb minimized option for pasta. This time I bring you Zucchini ‘Pasta’ with Meatballs – once again tackling a gluten free food trend relating to an Italian dish and bringing you a version that retains the integrity of Italian flavours.
Like many of us, during the week I try and minimize the amount of carbs in my diet. Sure, on the weekend when I’m recipe testing and shooting, I can’t help but “taste test” the product to make sure the recipe was a success gluten or not, and indeed on many occasions I need to eat five or six of each sweet treat before I’m truly sure if it is good!
A lover of pizza and pasta, I’m constantly relegating it to a special treat due to all the carbs, but that all changed when I started making cauliflower pizza bases, and now, I’m ready to bring pasta back to weeknights with the help of a spiralizer. If you haven’t invested in a spiralizer, you really should as it is surprising how interesting you can make vegetables look and taste when you make long twisty strands of it (see Healthier Chorizo and Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash).
With zucchini being a hero of the spiralizer, there is no shortage of recipes out there for zucchini’s proudly masquerading as pasta, but I wanted to add my own recipe to the ever expanding list with a recipe for zucchini with Italian meatballs cooked in tomato passata. The flavour still packs a punch… but the carbs are seriously diminished – and trust me, with the flavourful meatball sauce, you won’t even notice the pasta is missing.
Zucchini ‘Pasta’ with Meatballs
- 250g pork mince
- 250g veal mince
- 1 brown onion, finely diced
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1/3 cup chopped continental parsley
- 1 large egg
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 brown onion, finely diced
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- a few basil leaves, roughly torn
- 700 ml bottle of tomato passata*
- 4 small zucchini, ends trimmed
- small handful grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
To make the meatballs place pork and veal mince in a large bowl and add onion, garlic, olive oil, grated cheese, parsley, egg, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix with your hands very gently until just combined (don’t overmix, or the meatballs will become tough when cooked). Roll generous tablespoon full portions of the mixture into balls gently in your hands and set aside in the fridge for 10 minutes.
Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan then add onion and garlic and saute until translucent. Add the whole bottle of tomato passata along with salt and pepper, and basil then bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low, cover and simmer for about 10 mins. Add the meatballs to the saucepan gently and continue to simmer for 20 minutes, turning the meatballs over halfway through. While the sauce is simmering, keep tasting it until the acidity of the raw tomatoes cooks out of the sauce.
During the last 10 minutes of the sauce simmering, prepare the zucchini pasta by either slicing the zucchini lengthwise on a mandoline using the small julienne blade, or using a spiralizer. When you are ready to serve, take the sauce off the heat and gently transfer the meatballs to a plate the place the zucchini pasta in the pot with the sauce and mix (only about 30 seconds), then remove and serve the zucchini topped with sauce and meatballs. Finish off with with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
* For tomato passata, you can buy the Val Verde brand at large Australian supermarkets in the tomato aisle.
Martine @ Chompchomp says
I am a big fan of using zucchini for pasta, it makes having pasta as a regular meal so much more possible without the spread on the waistline. I have mainly been serving them raw with a cold sauce and never really thought to take it further and serve with a heart warming more traditional pasta sauce. Will have to give this a go now!
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Kevin | keviniscooking says
Amanda this looks delicious and I love the pork/veal combo for the meatballs. Only way to go! Question: Did this come out watery to you? I have tossed the zucchini from a spiralizer in a warm sauce before too and it got so watery. Just wondering… Although I would eat this bowl up pretty quickly so I guess it wouldn’t matter. Nice post. 🙂
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Amanda Michetti says
Hi Kevin, its a valid Question. I made this two ways, the first way (which is the one photographed) was made by salting the zucchini and then squeezing it to get the liquid out before adding it to the sauce – once added, it still made the sauce watery. I actually made it again last night before I finished the post and this time, I didn’t salt the zucchini at all just tossed it in at the end very quickly and it worked much better – also the texture of the zucchini was better this way so I preferred it un-squeezed. One other way to counteract the watery-ness would be to cook the pasta sauce a bit longer till it is the thickness of a pizza sauce – then when you add the zucchini, if it releases water, it will thin out the pizza sauce till it is pasta sauce consistency.
if you ever need a hand (mouth) with the recipe testing, im more than happy to help out! this looks gorgeous, i have recently discovered my love for meatballs!
Annie @ ciaochowbambina says
This dish looks incredible. I recently made meatballs but now it looks like I need to make them again…Beautiful photographs!
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John@Kitchen Riffs says
I don’t have one of those spiralizers, but they do look interesting. And I like the idea of using zucchini with pasta sauces. Although I might be inclined just to saute the zucchini, and then cover with the sauce. Not “pasta,” but equally tasty I’ll bet.
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Sara | Belly Rumbles says
Looks delicious and I am a massive zucchini fan. Happily replace pasta (sometimes) with this version. On another note, if you need a second opinion on the old recipe tasting, you do know where I live :p
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Maureen | Orgasmic Chef says
I love zucchini noodles. Not because they’re low carb but because I love the taste and texture. What a beautiful dish.
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Helen | Grab Your Fork says
And I’m a bit obsessed with my spiraliser at the moment too. I love eating my zoodles raw but will have to give it a go with hot sauces. I like your pasta to meatball ratio here too 😀
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