Inspiration: If you haven’t noticed, Brandon and I have been drastically reducing our carbohydrate intake, and I’ve found that there are a suprising number of ways to take carbs out of our meals without sacrificing our favorite foods entirely. I’ve seen the idea of using zucchini as a base for sauce instead of a pasta all over the web, and it seemed like such a great idea to me. I knew that a vegetable wouldn’t replace a pasta, but then, it didn’t really have to as long as it tasted good!
What we Loved: I really enjoyed this new take on a “spaghetti and meatballs” supper, and to tell the truth, I didn’t even miss the pasta. The zucchini was crisp and fresh, having been softened just a little bit in a saute pan, and I thought that it added a nice and light vegetable flavor to the marinara sauce, meatballs, and Parmesan cheese. Zucchini is a vegetable that I often like to serve with marinara-based dishes, anyway, because I’ve always felt like it compliments the tomato flavor very well, so it really does work great in place of pasta. This dish was so light, yet it still tasted indulgent. These days, I really do love vegetables much more than starches, so it’s nice to have a classic starch dish where the vegetable is now the star!
Helpful Hints: I think that these zucchini ribbons would work well with any type of pasta sauce. A pesto cream sauce or an alfredo sound great. And if you’d prefer, you can use a mandoline or good knife skills to cut the zucchini into very thin matchstick-like strips that resemble a pasta like spaghetti.
Meatballs and Mozzarella with Zucchini Ribbons
Source: original recipe to serve 2
6 large meatballs, uncooked (I used some leftover uncooked meatballs from this recipe that I had frozen in the freezer)
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and minced
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup parsley, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
2 small zucchini
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1. Add a drizzle of olive oil in the bottom of a saute pan or pot. Add the onion, and saute for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and thyme, and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
2. Add the tomatoes, parsley, oregano, and an extra drizzle of olive oil, and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Add the meatballs to the pan. Bring the sauce to a boil, cook for 3-4 minutes, then reduce the sauce to a heavy simmer. Cover the pan, and cook for approximately 30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.
4. While the sauce is cooking, use a vegetable peeler to peel the zucchini into long strips. Work your way around the zucchini, stopping when you get to the seeds.
5. When the sauce is almost finished, heat a drizzle of olive oil in a saute pan. Add the zucchini strips, and saute for 2-3 minutes, until just softened but still a bit crisp.
6. Serve the zucchini noodles topped with the marinara sauce and meatballs. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.