Pasta is one of my all time favorite foods. So versatile, so comforting, and so delicious. If I could eat pasta every single day and avoid gaining excessive amounts of weight, you bet I would! But I can’t, so I save those delectable carbs for when I’m really craving pasta and opt for zoodles on a more frequent basis.
Zoodle = Zucchini + Noodle
If you have Instagram, watch Food Network, or have googled any low-carb recipes in the past year, then without a doubt you’ve heard of zoodles. Zucchini is one of the most adaptable vegetables around. This special vegetable can take on the flavors of any spices or sauces you throw at it, just as pasta does. Turning zucchini into noodles utilizing a spiralizer is a great way to recreate low-carb, health-oriented versions of your favorite pasta dishes.
If you don’t have a spiralizer yet, Amazon has some fancy options like these. Or you can head to your local Target or Walmart and pick up a $10 handheld spiralizer. I have always used a simple handheld spiralizer and it works wonders in cranking out uniform, beauitful zoodles! Zucchini tends to have a high water content. So whenever you are cooking with zoodles, make sure to prep the zoodles ahead of the rest of your meal. After you’ve put the zucchini through the spiralizer, allow the zoodles to rest on a few sheets of paper towel for 10 minutes or so to allow some of the water to drain from the zucchini. This way, you won’t end up with soggy zoodles once cooked.
On weeknights, when I’m craving Italian and don’t want to think about doing additional cardio the following day, I turn to my trusty zoodles. I’ve whipped up a walnut and basil pesto to toss the zoodles in and topped with feta cheese for a quick and healthy weeknight meal. If I’m looking for a guilt free side dish, I’ll make zoodles drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice. Then I’ll season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes and sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano.
A Healthier Spaghetti and Meatballs
Who doesn’t love a big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs with tomato sauce? This classic dish screams comfort food to me. One of my favorite things to do with zoodles is to recreate a healthier version of this kitchen classic. In order to make a lighter meatball, I use ground turkey with egg whites and oatmeal to bind, along with typical aromatics for flavor. I like to brown my meatballs in my cast iron skillet and then create a quick tomato sauce in the same skillet using Pomì tomato sauce. Pomì is an authentic tomato sauce made with garden-ripe Italian tomatoes. The flavor is insane and now Pomì is the only tomato sauce I use!
The Wine Pairing
I would recommend pairing these zoodles and meatballs with a medium-bodied red wine. Though the zoodles and poultry based meatballs allow this dish to remain on the lighter side, the tomato sauce definitely calls for a red wine. A Sangiovese, maybe a Chianti, would work well here as would a lighter style Primitivo or Zinfandel. The dominant “red fruit” flavor profiles of these varietals will complement the tomato sauce well without overpowering the delicate flavors built up by the aromatics in the meatballs and tomato sauce.
I hope you enjoy this zoodle dish as much as I do! I know my zoodles with turkey meatballs and quick tomato sauce made my taste buds and my waistline both very happy. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below or post a photo of your zoodles and meatballs, then tag me on Instagram (@palm.and.vine). Buon appetito!
This recipe is a healthy take on a comfort food classic that will satisfy your tastebuds and help keep your waistline trim. You will need a spiralizer for this recipe.
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 white onion
- 3 zucchini
- 4 oz Crimini mushrooms (about half of the package or less if desired)
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley (optional for garnish)
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1.5 tsp egg white
- 2.5 tbsp oats
- 2 tbsp crumbled feta cheese
- 12 oz ground turkey (I typically use 93% lean 7% fat)
- 2 tbsp Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, Romano, or Asiago cheese
- 1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 3/4 cup dry white wine
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 bay leaves
- garlic powder
- red pepper flakes
- dried basil
- dried oregano
Wash zucchini. Cut one end off of each zucchini. Insert cut end of zucchini into spiralizer and twist to turn zucchini into zoodles. Lay out a few layers of paper towel on your counter or on a baking sheet. Spread the zoodles out on the paper towel and leave for 10-15 minutes to allow zoodles to drain out any excess water.
Mince 3 cloves of garlic. Dice 1/4 of white onion. Rinse and dice Crimini mushrooms. Rinse and chop parsley if using as a garnish. Set aside.
Prepare the turkey meatballs. Place 12 oz of ground turkey in a bowl. Add 1 clove minced garlic, egg white, oats, crumbled feta. Season generously with a large pinch each of salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, dried basil, dried oregano, garlic powder. Use your hands to combine all ingredients together. Meat should be able to easily bind together. If not binding well, add more oats as needed. Form ingredients into 6 meatballs. I like a medium-sized meatball, though you could form smaller meatballs and produce more if desired.
In a medium sized skillet over medium heat, drizzle 1/2 tbsp of olive oil. Place meatballs in skillet. Turn meatballs to cook on all sides.
As meatballs are finishing up cooking on all sides, drizzle 1/2 tbsp more of olive oil into the skillet. Add diced white onion and the other 2 minced cloves of garlic. Stir. Allow to cook for 2 minutes or until softened.
Add 3/4 cup dry white wine to the skillet. Reduce heat to medium to low and cover the skillet with a lid or sheet pan. Allow liquid to reduce by about half.
Add diced mushrooms to the skillet along with 3 thyme sprigs. Allow mushrooms to soften.
Add 11 oz of Pomì tomato sauce to the skillet (Between 1/2 and 3/4 of the 17.64 oz Pomì tomato sauce carton). Or use your tomato sauce of choice.
Season the tomato sauce with 2 bay leaves and a generous pinch each of salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, dried basil, dried oregano, and garlic powder. I also like to squeeze in about 1 tbsp of lemon juice here to brighten up the sauce.
Cover the skillet, reduce heat to low, and allow the sauce to simmer for 5 or more minutes to allow sauce to thicken. If sauce becomes too thick, add 1 or 2 tbsp of water and stir.
While the sauce and meatballs simmer, place a medium sized sauté pan over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to the pan. Place zoodles in the pan. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Use tongs to turn the zoodles in the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until tender.
Remove time sprigs and bay leaves from tomato sauce. Then to plate, place desired amount of zoodles in the center of a plate. Use tongs to twirl zoodles onto the plate in a uniform fashion. Place meatballs on top or next to zoodles. Using a spoon, drizzle desired amount of tomato sauce over the zoodles and meatballs. Garnish with cheese and chopped parsley.
Wine Pairing: Pair with a Primitivo (or Zinfandel) or a Chianti to complement the acidity of the tomato based sauce.