The zucchini noodle has been around now for quite a while, and for those of us who choose to avoid wheat products, it is a welcome invention that puts Italian food back on the table. All that is needed to make a plateful of zucchini noodles is a spiral slicer, zucchini, and a good twist of the wrist. The slicer is designed so that the seeded core of the zucchini pushes through the middle and can be easily discarded (or popped in the noodle maker’s mouth for a quick and healthy snack!) However, you don’t have to make noodles from zucchinis alone. Carrots, yellow crookneck squash and Japanese or Chinese eggplants will also work.
As a connoisseur of great Italian food, I felt I just had to add more flavor to this Paleo favorite, and I did that by including more vegetables and by making some really great meatballs. To me, there can never be enough vegetables, so I tossed in some sliced mushrooms, fresh basil, red and yellow peppers and red onion.
Now, I have been a meatball maker since way back when I stood about as tall as the kitchen table helping my grandmother make her famous polpete. I learned that to make a decent meatball, it takes a blend of meat and sausage, some milk, some bread, some spices and an egg. Nowadays, I use almond/coconut milk and gluten-free panko bread crumbs. What grandma doesn’t know can’t hurt her. I also add some garlic, Organic Girl baby spinach and sun-dried tomatoes that have been finely chopped in the food processor because, like I said earlier, there can never be too many vegetables. The same is true for meatballs – a million is not enough! (Especially when they are as good as the ones in this recipe.)
I leave the sauce up to you. Use your favorite store-bought pasta sauce, make your own quick marinara or do like my grandmother taught me and make the kind that simmers in a big pot all day. That is for you to decide, and the wonder of it is, you can decide differently every time you make this meal. There is something to be said for never getting bored with a recipe.
1 package organic ground turkey
1 package organic hot Italian turkey sausage
2 tbsp. almond milk or coconut milk or a blend of both
1/4 cup gluten-free panko bread crumbs
1 egg (to hold meatballs together)
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. marjoram
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. allspice
2 – 3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup baby spinach (I use Organic Girl)
1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes
(Makes a bunch of meatballs!)
1. Place spinach, garlic and sun dried tomatoes in the food processor and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped.
2. In a large bowl, mix the ground turkey and turkey sausage until well combined.
3. Add the milk, egg and bread crumbs and combine thoroughly.
4. Add the spices and processed garlic, sun dried tomato and spinach, and mix until evenly distributed.
5. Preheat the oven to 350º.
6. Line a roasting pan with foil or pan lining paper. Using a spoon, scoop out a portion of meat and shape it into a ball. Continue shaping balls from the meat and lining them up in rows in the roasting pan until all of the meat is used.
7. Bake the meatballs for 25-30 minutes. Turn off the oven. You can leave them inside to keep them warm while you make the pasta.
(Use 1 zucchini per person – I am writing the recipe for 4 people)
2 organic carrots (I use the ones with stems on because they are prettier and more tender)
12 white or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 yellow bell pepper
1/2 red onion, diced
1 – 2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tbsp. fresh chopped basil leaves
1 tbsp. coconut or olive oil for sauteing
1. Chop the ends off of washed zucchini and carrots. Using a spiral slicer, press the zucchini against the blade inside the slicer and rotate to create long spirals. It’s not a perfect machine, so sometimes they come out as medium or short spirals. let’s be honest. (You can also use a mandoline slicer but I prefer thespiral slicer because you are more likely to come out unscathed using it.) Slice the carrots in the same manner.
2. Slice the mushrooms (or buy sliced), red and yellow peppers and dice the onions.
3. Melt the coconut oil or warm the olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and mushrooms to the skillet and stir frequently until they begin to caramelize.
4. Add the peppers and garlic to the pan. Continue to stir for 2 -3 minutes more.
5. Add the basil and zucchini and carrot spirals last. Stir to combine with other vegetables just until the spirals begin to turn tender (no longer than 3 minutes for “al dente”.) If preferred, the spirals can be left raw.
6. Place the vegetables and zucchini/carrot pasta in a bowl. Add 3 -4 meatballs per serving. Top with your favorite pasta sauce and toppings and enjoy!
Note: You can also add olives, capers and pimientos for a Sicilian style pasta.
This recipe, as written, is gluten free.