Pesto Summer Meatballs and Zoodles is a super delicious, gluten-free, healthy, summer comfort food! Your guests will keep coming back for more!This post contains Amazon affiliate links for your convenience at no additional cost to you.
This meal is beautiful, comforting, full of delicious summer flavors, and came together for a few simple reasons . . . .
First — and by far the most interesting — my husband, who’s been a Vegetarian (Pescatarian, really), for the past twenty-one years, was craving meatballs and suddenly and without warning, decided he wanted to add red meat back into his diet. (For real!)
Second, my parents gave me a handful of perfect summer tomatoes fresh from the vines in their backyard.
Voilà — the meatballs, the sauce, and the spaghetti.
I made this yesterday for my birthday dinner. It was lovely.
What are Zoodles?
Simple, Zoodles are zucchini shaped into noodles. That’s it.
How to Make Zoodles (Zucchini Noodles)?
- There are a few different kitchen tools that will easily turn your zucchini into noodles. Some are fancy, like a Spiralizer, and some — like my Julienne peeler, are quite simple.
- You can also cut a whole zucchini, lengthwise, into thin slices, then stack a few together, and cut those into very thin “noodles.” (Using a Mandoline for the first slices is an easy way to do this, if you have one.)
How to Cook Zoodles?
- Zoodles can be sautéed, steamed, quickly roasted or par-boiled.
- Whichever method you choose, be sure to watch them carefully. Even slightly over cooking them, could result in a mushy final product.
They can also be served raw, which is excellent is salads.
Enjoy every last bite of this recipe for Pesto Summer Meatballs and Zoodles!
This is a super delicious, gluten-free, healthy, summer comfort food meal!
- 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
- 2 cups loosely packed basil leaves, washed and dried
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
- 3 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes marinated in olive oil drained
- 2 tablespoons oil from the marinated sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs (I make my own with the ends of our gluten-free bread loaves)
- 1 large egg, lightly blended
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 2 pounds ripe or overripe tomatoes, washed and dried, roots and seeds removed
- olive oil for the pan
- 1 cup red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup dry red wine
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 3 pounds zucchini (about 8 medium-sized)
- olive oil for the pan
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups tear-drop or cherry tomatoes, washed and dried, sliced in half for garnish
- 1 handful small basil leaves for garnish
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Add the beef to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
Add the basil, Parmesan, pine notes, sun-dried tomatoes, sun-dried tomato oil, and garlic to a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Blend until it's fairly smooth.
Add the basil mixture to the bowl with the meat, along with the breadcrumbs, egg, salt and sugar. Use a large mixing spoon -- or even better, your hands -- to mix everything together.
Shape the meat into balls, about 3 tablespoons each. Roll them between your hands to make them smooth and place them on the parchment-lined baking sheet as you go. Set aside.
Add the tomatoes to a blender, turn on high and blend until they are completely puréed. Set aside.
Coat the bottom of a very large sauté pan with olive oil and place it over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomato pureé and wine. Stir to blend and bring to a boil. Then quickly reduce the heat to low and simmer until the sauce thickens and reduces by about 1/4, about 20 minutes. (Do not cover the pan.) Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Here's How to Season to Taste.)
Now add the shaped meatballs to the sauce, trying to space them so they are not touching each other. Turn the heat to low-medium and cover the pan. (If it doesn't have a lid, use foil.) Cook for about 10 minutes and then use kitchen tongs to turn them over. Cover and continue to gently simmer until they are cooked through, about another 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and keep the pan on the stove.
Coat the bottom of another very large sauté pan with olive oil. Add the prepared zucchini and place the pan over medium heat. Stirring very gently from time to time, cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
Serve the meatballs with the sauce over the zucchini and garnish with the tear-drop or cherry tomatoes and basil leaves.
If gluten-free isn't important to you, use any breadcrumbs you'd like to.