Sometimes I feel a hankering for meatballs, but I don’t want to eat actual meat or even a meat substitute. I just want to eat my pasta topped with something filling, delicious, and veggie-based. I mean, I like a big bowl of pasta topped with sauce and veggies as much as the next guy, but sometimes I want something a little more substantial that doesn’t include meat. Are you feeling me?
These zucchini no-meat meatballs are just the right fit to satisfy those cravings. I would describe these as similar to really good falafel, but bathed in marinara sauce and dotted with Parmesan. These are meatless, yes, but every bit as enjoyable and tasty as regular meatballs. Put this recipe in your “too much zucchini is growing in the garden” file for summer. You’ll surely be making this on a regular basis.
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
2 c. shredded zucchini, liquid pressed out through a strainer
3 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
2 tsp. oregano
1 egg, beaten
1 c. Italian breadcrumbs
¼ c. Parmesan, grated
Salt and pepper
2 c. marinara, prepared or homemade
Parmesan cheese, for topping
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the shallots and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Add the shredded zucchini and cook it for 5 minutes, or until most of the water has cooked off. Drain the mixture in a strainer and press again to release any excess water.
Place the zucchini mixture in a large bowl. Add the breadcrumbs, egg, Parmesan, basil, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper and mix together thoroughly. Using your hands, form the mixture into 12-16 “meatballs.” Place on a greased baking sheet and bake until firm and browned (25 minutes or so).
Remove the “meatballs” from the oven and place into a skillet with 2 cups of marinara sauce. Allow them to simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce is heated through and coats the “meatballs.”
Serve with pasta or simply alone, topped with Parmesan cheese.