Every now and then I crave a really hearty Italian meal. A big bowl of pasta or ravioli with sauce, cheese, the works. I know, since I no longer eat this way it would be a disaster if I tried to indulge in such a heavy traditional meal. Yet, I still crave it on occasion. So with this yearning for a yummy forkful of tomatoes, noodles and spices I set out to create my own healthy, lighter version of this popular dish. Not only did I dive in wanting to make this gluten-free but I thought why not go all in and make it paleo as well. There’s nothing better than finishing a plateful of this dish and not feeling that heaviness you get after devouring pasta (even the gluten-free kind). I like to think of this as a simple, healthy, no guilt way of enjoying pasta and meatballs that can satisfy everyone from the non-grain eaters to the non-dairy (sorry vegans this one isn’t for you). My twist, aside from the obvious zucchini noodles is that I decided to pair this with a lighter less ‘saucy’ sauce. I’m never a huge fan of the runny tomato sauce that just lays flat on top of your pile of pasta. I prefer one with a bit more texture, veggies and dynamic flavor. This is how I ended up with what I consider my simple sauce. It’s not only simple to make but with only four ingredients it’s a surprising palette pleaser for sure. Now you can serve a hearty Italian meal, skip the grains and still have room for dessert!
Simple Sauce & Meatballs Over Zucchini Noodles
Serves 4/Cook time: 30 minutes
- 1lb grass-fed ground beef
- 1/8c Nutritional yeast (I use Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast)
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 2tbsp coconut flour
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 1tsp 21 Seasoning Salute from Trader Joe’s (this is a salt-free spice and can be substituted but you won’t get the exact same flavor)
- sea salt to taste
- 2tbsp olive oil
- 1c white onion, chopped
- 1c white mushrooms, chopped
- 2 15oz. cans fire-roasted tomatoes (I use Trader Joe’s Organic diced)
- 1tbsp olive oil
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- 1lb zucchini (about 4 large or about 1 per person)
- sea salt
- Set oven to 225F. Take beef out of fridge and let it come to room temperature while you prep the other ingredients.
- Using a spiral slicer, create zucchini noodles. Spread onto a baking sheet lined with paper towels and sprinkle generously with sea salt. Place in the oven for 30 minutes. (Don’t skip this step! This will draw out the excess water from the zucchini).
- In a large bowl, combine nutritional yeast, egg, coconut flour, garlic, seasoning and salt. Add in beef and using hands, mix thoroughly.
- Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Form beef into golfball size meatballs and add to pan (should make 16). Cover and cook turning occasionally to brown on all sides. Should take about 20 minutes to cook through.
- While meatballs are cooking, add oil to a separate saucepan over medium heat to start the sauce. Add onions and cook 2-3 minutes until translucent. Add in mushrooms and cook another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in tomatoes and stir to combine. Cover and turn heat to low and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.
- When meatballs are done, add to saucepan and combine with tomato sauce.
- When noodles are done, remove from oven and blot with paper towels to remove any excess liquid.
- Plate noodles while still warm and top with meatballs and sauce. Top with nut cheese (to keep dairy free) and fresh parsley if desired. Serve and enjoy!