Following yesterday’s dinner of tater tots and cheese, I woke up thinking I should probably whip up something a little healthier for today. Cuz, you know…I’m a responsible adult who is capable of making good life decisions. Mmhmm. So I rolled out of bed, headed straight for the kitchen, and made a batch of healthy broccoli & cheese mac (recipe forthcoming…maybe), and a ton of skinny spaghetti & meatballs – zucchini squash “noodles” served with tasty turkey meatballs packed with vegetables. Gluten free, high fiber, low calorie…and amazingly delicious.
So, why zucchini noodles vs. real noodles? I could give you a ton of totally legit reasons – they’re healthy, they taste awesome, we need more vegetables in our life, I love zucchini, I’m trying to cut back on wheat, etc. etc. – but the real reason is that I bought a new spiralizer and I wanted to use it. And you guys? It’s SO. MUCH. FUN. There’s something so satisfying about seeing an entire squash reduced to perfect, uniform strips in a matter of seconds. Seconds! Just attach the squash, crank a handle, push, and voila – flawless veggie noodles! It soothes the OCD nut in me.
But OK, back to the recipe. Does it taste exactly like regular pasta and meatballs? Nope. But I personally found it to be as delicious and satisfying (I’m honestly not really that into pasta). Dan, as a pasta-fiend, would have preferred regular noodles, but even he had to admit that the zucchini noodles were pretty tasty. A little crunchier than real regular noodles, but just as good a vehicle for tomato-y sauce and meatballs.
As for the meatballs themselves…Dan was a fan. Despite some misgivings early on (“Is this really meat? You made fake mac n’cheese – are these fake meatballs?”), he came down on the side of being pro-skinny meatballs after just one bite. Who can blame him? These meatballs don’t taste at all like they should be good for you – they’re juicy, have great texture, and are packed with robust flavor. When you toss them in pasta sauce, they taste as yummy as everyone’s favorite beefy standby. But, at just 40 calories and 2 grams of protein each, they’re a healthy, guilt-free treat. Try it!
- 5-6 large zucchinis
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 lbs lean ground turkey
- 2 medium bell peppers (I used green and yellow)
- 2 large eggs
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup gluten free Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
- 1 24 oz jar of pasta sauce
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Stick your bell peppers in a food processor and pulse until they are minced. Drain of liquid and set aside
- In a large bowl, beat your eggs.
- Add your Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs. Stir until mixture is thick and sticky.
- Add your minced bell peppers to the bowl, along with the ground turkey.
- Season mixture with salt to taste.
- Using your hands, mix everything until all ingredients are well-incorporated.
- Roll the mixture into meatballs (I used a 1 tbsp cookie scoop and got about 50) and place on a greased baking sheet. (NOTE - your meat mixture will be a little wetter than usual, so you won't have perfectly formed balls that hold up on their own...as you can see my pictures, they are like fat little mounds with a slightly flat bottom. Also, these meatballs will stick and brown on the bottom as they bake, so don't panic).
- Bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove meatballs from the baking sheet and set aside.
- To make your zucchini noodles, slice off the ends of your zucchini and cut each in half crosswise. Run the cut zucchini through the spiralizer on the thin noodle setting, cutting the noodles every 12-15 inches.
- Heat olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Add the spiralized zucchini noodles and cook until just soft and slightly translucent. Remove pan from heat and set aside.
- Pour your pasta sauce in a large saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the meatballs, stir gently and cover. Let the mixture simmer until the sauce is hot throughout.
- Portion out some zucchini noodles onto a plate and spoon some sauce on top of the noodles.
- Top with meatballs and some grated cheese (optional).
- Serve immediately!