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+ servings

Pesto Summer Meatballs and Zoodles

This is a super delicious, gluten-free, healthy, summer comfort food meal!

Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Keyword best gluten-free noodle recipes, good for summer dinner parties, good weeknight meal
Prep Time 2 hours 40 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 391 kcal
Author Valentina K. Wein


For the meatballs

  • pounds lean ground beef
  • 2 cups loosely packed basil leaves, washed and dried
  • ¼ 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
  • ½ 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

For the sauce

For the spaghetti

  • 3 pounds zucchini (about 8 medium-sized)
  • olive oil for the pan
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • cups tear-drop or cherry tomatoes, washed and dried, sliced in half for garnish
  • 1 handful small basil leaves for garnish


For the meatballs

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Add the beef to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

For the sauce

  1. Add the tomatoes to a blender, turn on high and blend until they are completely puréed. Set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.)
  4. 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.

For the "spaghetti"

  1. 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.
  2. Serve the meatballs with the sauce over the zucchini and garnish with the tear-drop or cherry tomatoes and basil leaves.

Recipe Notes

If gluten-free isn't important to you, use any breadcrumbs you'd like to.