I’m a pesto girl; Nick prefers tomato sauce. I like tomatoes, but there’s something about the rush of flavor that toasted pine nuts, garlic and fresh basil ignites. It’s one of those close your eyes and absorb the bite with your soul kind of dishes.
Pesto pasta has a special place in my heart. Though I rarely indulged in pasta dishes even in my blissful state of digestive distress pre-candida diet, the thought of maybe never enjoying it again when I decided to go grain-free made me, well, just kind of sad.
Never fear, zoodles are here. And in case you were worried you wouldn’t feel satisfied on noodles made of zucchini, there are meatballs involved.
Not that you couldn’t enjoy just the zoodles and pesto. Honestly the olive oil and pine nuts are full of fat, (healthy fat, but fat none-the-less) and will fill you up nicely. But say you’re particularly hankering, or you have a man around who’s pretty convinced that if he doesn’t have some animal protein, he’ll fade away in his sleep tonight, a few fresh meatballs will do nicely.
I highly recommend making zoodles with the Vegetti. It’ll only put you out $12 on Amazon. If you’re going spur of the moment you can always just slice some zucchini up carefully and fine. It’s just takes longer and the strips won’t be as noodle-y.
You can use walnuts for the pesto too, but I prefer the classic pine nut flavor and the particular way they collapse in the oil between your teeth.
You’ve gotta go green and vibrant with fresh basil leaves. Dried basil is just not the same thing. Dead and unrecognizable like a… never mind. I don’t like where I’m going with this metaphor. Getting a tad morbid for a food blog.
Anyway, basil man, get it fresh. Grow it yourself in a little pot so when the mood strikes, you’ve got it on hand.
Now for the finishing touch, these meatballs are a really healthy way to go because they’re baked in the oven. They also bear an anti-fungal boost in the garlic and fresh herbs give them un unparalleled flavor.
I adapted this Shape Magazine Recipe for the meatballs, halving the recipe, replacing the pork with ground turkey, and using dijon mustard made with apple cider vinegar. I also played around with the amount of spices as I like flavors to really pop.
How do you feel about the idea of giving up pasta?
Have you already done it? Or tried alternatives?
Is it one of those “you want what you can’t have” type of deals? Let me know in the comments.
- For the Zoodles
- 4 medium zucchini spiralized or finely sliced
- For the Pesto
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
- ½ cup fresh basil
- For the Meatballs
- 1 lb ground turkey or chicken
- 1 clove of garlic minced
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ Tbs ground paprika
- ½ Tbs caraway seeds
- ½ Tbs ground black pepper
- ½ cup fresh parsley chopped
- 1 Tbs dijon mustard made with apple cider vinegar
- 1 egg
- Preheat the oven to 400 F
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper for the meatballs
- Combine all the meatball ingredients and roll into 1 inch balls,
- Placing on the parchment paper lined cookie sheet with at least a half inch in between.
- Once the oven is preheated, bake the meatballs for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.
- Meanwhile spiralize or slice the zucchini and place in a steamer with water in the bottom.
- Combine the basil, pine nuts and garlic in a blender or food processor until pestoy.
- When the meatballs have about 5 minutes to go, turn on the heat under the zoodles to lightly steam them.
- Once the zoodles are soft, but still bright colored, drain them and plate them.
- Scoop the pesto on top, stir it up and top with 2 or 3 meatballs.