Have you ever eaten a huge bowl of spaghetti and meatballs and pondered on its nutrient-dense profile? Or thought about how energized you feel? Probably not! It’s more likely that you unbuttoned your pants, popped a Zantac, and possibly shed a tear or two in discomfort. What if I told you I have a pretty decent (okay amazing) recipe to replicate spaghetti and meatballs, and it’s actually healthy and good for you? Keep reading, amigos. This dish is easy to make, and it will impress your friends, because they will be wondering what sort of wizardry you summoned to turn zucchini into spaghetti. I mean, look at that photo! That’s 100% zucchini. No pasta. No flour. No gluten. Just zucchini, tomato, and meatball goodness. Oh yes.
This recipe uses zucchini instead of spaghetti and almond flour instead of the typical bread crumbs. I just picked up a huge 5-pound bag of almond flour that is going to be the source of some heavy-duty recipe testing. So, be on the lookout for more recipes using almond flour!
I’m a fan of lists, so here are a few tips so that your meatball-making skills are top-notch:
- Don’t overmix the meat! Mix the meat until it barely comes together, otherwise you will end up with very dense meatballs. Less is more in this case. I recommend whisking the egg, garlic and spices together first and then adding in the ground beef, and then adding in the almond flour last.
- Try to make the meatballs the same size. Variety is the spice of life, but uniformity is the way to go so the meatballs cook evenly in the oven. Think golf ball size!
- Wear disposable gloves! It makes for an easy clean-up, and thank goodness for that, because I don’t love having to remove raw ground beef from my manicure.
I serve these meatballs over zucchini noodles, but you could also use spaghetti squash. If you’re a newbie to the crafting of zucchini pasta, there are several ways to go about it. A vegetable peeler works great, so does a julienne peeler, but my absolute favorite tool to use is this crazy-looking spiralizer. We are BFFs. I use the shredder blade, which is the blade with the smallest holes, and it creates these wonderfully spaghetti-like strands in just a few seconds. Way faster than boiling water, that’s for sure. I peeled the skins off the zucchinis for this recipe, but you can also leave them on. If you use a vegetable peeler or julienne peeler, just run the peeler lengthwise along the zucchinis until you reach the seeded core. It will take a little longer, but you will still end up with noodles!
If you tolerate dairy, you should know that I’m quite jealous, so make sure to add a bit of grated parmesan on top for some extra flavor. Save any leftover tomato sauce to add to a veggie stirfry or to smother over some chicken. Enjoy the recipe and happy eating!
- 5 cups basic tomato sauce
- 1 tbs grassfed butter
- 1 tbs paprika powder
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- Zest from 1 lemon
- 1 lb grassfed ground beef
- 1/4 cup almond flour
- 1 tbs minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp dried parsley
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 egg
- 4 medium zucchinis, spiralized or julienned (optional: peel skins)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbs olive oil
- Fresh parsley, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- In a large mixing bowl, add egg, minced garlic, and spices and lightly beat with a fork. Add ground beef and almond flour to bowl. Mix ingredients very gently and then using your hands, lightly form the mixture into meatballs (about golf ball size) and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake meatballs for 20 minutes.
- While meatballs bake, prepare tomato sauce. In a large pot, combine 5 cups of basic tomato sauce with garlic, spices, lemon zest, and butter. Bring to a low simmer.
- Once meatballs are ready, add to tomato sauce and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.
- While meatballs simmer in sauce, prepare zucchini noodles. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tbs olive oil. Once skillet is hot, add in zucchini noodles, sprinkle with salt, and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until al dente.
- Serve zucchini noodles with tomato sauce and meatballs.
- Garnish with chopped parsley.
- Recipe yields 18-20 meatballs.