I don’t know about you, but I have been loving zucchini more than usual this summer. It’s such a versatile veggie- add it to any stir fry, make noodles, or hide it in your smoothie for an extra dose of filling fiber. And the best part is, the summer abundance means it’s extra cheap. That’s what I love about shopping in season- not only do the ingredients taste better, but they’re cheaper and easy to find at your local farmer’s market. It’s getting close to the end of the season, though, so make this quick!
But let’s be honest, who really gets excited about eating plain zucchini? Have you ever heard anyone say, “I can’t wait to go home and eat a giant plate of zucchini?” Probably not, and if you have, you may reconsider who you hang around. But throw in some hearty, savory meatballs, and that’s a different story. I kid you not, I have made fans of these meatballs out of 4 and 7 year-olds. And it is no small feat getting kids to swallow spinach.
For all you spaghetti and meatball lovers out there, I’m not about to try and tell you that this will fool your taste buds into thinking you’re eating the real deal, because well, I would be lying. But I love that this twist on a classic really take on its own identity and really celebrates the flavors of the vegetables. I can guarantee you, though, that you’ll feel a heck of a lot better after eating this than you would the O.G. When you can “have your cake and eat it too”, that’s my kind of meal.
Spinach and Turkey Meatballs + Zucchini Pasta Primavera
Turkey and Spinach Meatballs:
- 1 lb. 93% lean ground turkey
- 3-4 cups fresh spinach
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup almond flour
- 1 tsp. each garlic powder, onion powder, montreal steak seasoning (optional)
- 1/2 tsp each salt (1 tsp if omitting montreal), and pepper, plus more for spinach
- 1 T extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp. minced garlic
- 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- juice of 1 lemon
- 3-4 zucchini, spiralized
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (heirloom if possible- they’re just pretty)
- salt, pepper, and garlic powder, to taste
- 2 oz. crumbled goat cheese
- handful fresh basil, torn
- pine nuts, for topping
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wilt spinach over medium heat with a small pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside to cool before squeezing out moisture with paper towel. In a mixing bowl, add turkey, egg, almond flour, and seasonings. After spinach has cooled, mix all ingredients together and form into golf ball-sized meatballs. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, until they begin to brown on the top.
Meanwhile, for the zoodles, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and let cook for about a minute before adding the bell peppers. Saute for an addition couple of minutes, and then add chicken broth and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer, and then add zoodles, tomatoes, and seasonings to taste. Toss to heat through and wilt ever so slightly before removing from the heat. The zucchini will continue to cook even after you take it off the burner, so be careful not to let it overcook and get soggy. Top with goat cheese, torn basil, and pine nuts and serve immediately with turkey meatballs.
Note: The zucchini will release water the longer it sits, so be sure to serve with a slotted spoon.