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Hold The Pasta, Make Zoodles Instead

zucchini noodles and meatballs

Have you hopped on the zoodles bandwagon yet?

I'd had them before but hadn't ever served them to James because I was worried he wouldn't be able to get past the fact that he was eating zucchini. I was pleasantly surprised when he cleaned his plate at dinner and demolished some leftovers at lunch the next day. He kept calling this “zughetti,” which cracked me up.

I'm not going to tell you zoodles are just as good as regular pasta because that would be a lie. I'm a pasta lover and, in my opinion, you just can't beat the real thing. But because life is all about balance, I try to opt for zoodles more often than classic spaghetti. They're delicious, but in a different way.

For me, the key to making zoodles a hit is in the sauce. The meatballs cook in the marinara instead of in the oven, giving them more flavor and reducing the number of dirty dishes.

Zoodles With Meatballs

Ingredients

  • 3 large zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, finely shredded
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon fennel seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes with basil
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

Instructions

  1. Use a spiralizer to cut zucchini into noodles. If the zoodles are longer than regular spaghetti, cut them in half. Place zoodles on top of paper towels and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Place another paper towel on top of the zoodles, press down and let zoodles sit for 15 minutes. This will ensure your zoodles don't end up soggy.
  2. While zoodles are resting, make the meatballs. Combine breadcrumbs, parmesan, egg, milk, fennel and garlic salt in a large bowl. Whisk until combined. Add meat to the bowl and use your hands to mix until just combined. Roll meat mixture into 24 1-inch meatballs. Set aside.
  3. To make the sauce, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is warm, add sliced garlic cloves and red pepper and stir constantly until garlic turns slightly golden, about one minute. Add remaining ingredients and bring the sauce to a boil.
  4. Once sauce is boiling, carefully place meatballs in the pan. Reduce the heat to simmering and cover. Let meatballs cook for ten minutes before flipping them over, then allow them to cook while covered for five minutes more. Remove from heat once the meatballs are cooked through.
  5. To cook zoodles, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once oil is hot, add zoodles to the pan and cook for three to five minutes, stirring occasionally, until the noodles reach your desired tenderness. Remove from heat and top zoodles with meatballs and sauce.


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