I am always on the lookout for new ways of enjoying the flavours of a pasta dish, without using pasta. This recipe is a deconstructed version of zucchini noodles with meatballs and tomato sauce.
Round zucchini (aka 8-ball zucchini or summer squash) are a great alternative to traditional zucchini because when hollowed out they form a perfect bowl that you can fill with just about anything including sauce, meat or even couscous.
In this recipe I filled the zucchini with a delicious pork mixture that tastes just like meatballs. Like traditional meatballs made in Italy, the key to making the mince moist is the addition of milk, or in this case almond milk, and bread, or in this case almond flour. These two ingredients when combined with the mince result in the meat becoming incredibly tender and maintaining this consistency when cooked in the zucchini.
The stuffed zucchini are baked in a fresh tomato sauce in the oven until the meat becomes slightly golden and the zucchini are tender. For the tomato sauce I’ve included a basic recipe using fresh tomatoes, but if you are short on time you can use a store bought version or any sauce you have premade.
Although I used round zucchini in this recipe, they can often be hard to find, so you can substitute them for traditional long zucchini cut in half-length wise and hollowed out, or any other summer squash.
- 500 grams ground pork (or turkey/chicken/beef)
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ cup almond flour
- ½ cup almond milk
- 1 tsp chilli flakes (or more depending on desired spiciness)
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 8 round zucchini
- 1 stalk celery, finely diced
- 2 carrots, finely diced
- 1 red onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 700g ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped (approx 1.5lbs)
- cook for 30 minutes
- In a large pot on medium heat cook the ground meat, chopped onion and garlic in the olive oil for approximately 8 to 10 minutes until the meat is cooked and the onions become translucent.
- Transfer the cooked mixture to a blender or food processor and quickly pulse to break the meat down into a fine crumble texture.
- Put the ground meat in a bowl and add in the salt, almond flour, almond milk, chilli flakes and chopped parsley. Stir until well mixed. Set aside.
- Using a sharp knife cut an X on the top of each of the tomatoes. Place them in a bowl and cover with boiling water and let sit for approximately 1 minute until the skins begin to peel back.
- Peel the skins off of the tomatoes and then roughly chop.
- Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit)
- In the same pot used to cook the meat, sauté the celery, carrots, red onion and garlic in 1 tbsp olive oil until translucent. Add in the chopped tomatoes and simmer the sauce for approximately 30 minutes (depending on how ripe the tomatoes are you can add in a bit of honey/maple syrup to sweeten the sauce).
- While the sauce is cooking, cut the top off each of the zucchini and scoop out the flesh from the inside. Add a spoonful of the tomato sauce to the base of each of the zucchini and then fill with the ground meat mixture.
- Pour the remaining sauce into the bottom of a oven proof pan or baking dish. Place each of the prepared zucchini rounds into the sauce and then bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the zucchini is tender.