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Zucchini Noodles and Meatballs Recipe

Spaghetti and meatballs is the quintessential Italian-American supper, but with 770 calories, 42 grams of fat and 87 grams of carbohydrates per serving, the dish can wreak havoc on an otherwise healthy diet. In this lighter version, we defatted the meatballs with lean turkey and served them with fresh zucchini noodles or zoodles, as we like to call them  in place of the starchy kind. Substituting zucchini also adds fiber and nutrients to the meal, including folate, which supports metabolism; and magnesium, which plays a major role in muscle contraction. So when you’re pumping out extra reps the next morning, you’ll know why.

Zucchini Noodles and Meatballs

Photo by Perry Santanachote

Serves 6

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 40-45 minutes

The Skinny

Per 1-cup serving plus 3 meatballs:

  • 440 cal
  • 16 g fat (4.5 g sat)
  • 42 g carbs
  • 1,011 mg sodium
  • 8 g fiber
  • 35 g protein

Ingredients

For the meatballs:
1 1/2 cups fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons milk
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 pounds 93% lean ground turkey meat
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup parsley leaves, minced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

For the noodles:
6 large zucchini squash (6 ounces each), washed and peeled [Note: You will need a spiral slicer or julienne slicer during prep]
2 teaspoons sea salt

For the sauce:
3 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Preparation

  1. For the meatballs, combine the breadcrumbs, milk and egg yolk in a large bowl and set aside to soften, about 5 minutes. Add turkey, Parmesan, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper. Combine the mixture with your hands and form into 18 one-inch meatballs. Line the meatballs on a plate, cover, and stick them in the freezer for 20 minutes. In the meantime, make the noodles and tomato sauce.
  2. Preheat oven to 200° F and line a rimmed baking sheet with 2-3 layers of paper towels.
  3. Insert the 1/8-inch slicing disc into your spiral slicer. Place 1 squash on the prongs and line up the de-seeding hole in the middle of the end of the squash. Turn the crank until you’ve reached the end and have beautiful curly noodles (alternatively, use a julienne slicer to cut thin strands of zucchini). Repeat with the rest of the zucchini.
  4. Place the noodles on the baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 30 minutes.
  5. In a food processor, blend 2 cans of tomato sauce until smooth. Heat 1 teaspoons of oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat and add the onion; cook until soft, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds. Add the pureed tomatoes and remaining can of diced tomatoes; simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the meatballs. Cook gently until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to the tomato sauce to finish cooking, about 10 minutes.
  7. When the noodles are done, wrap them in fresh paper towels and give them a good squeeze to extract any remaining liquid. Divide the noodles into 6 bowls and top each with 3 meatballs and sauce, or alternatively, toss the noodles into the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes for softer noodles.
Zucchini Noodles and Meatballs

Photo by Perry Santanachote

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