Saturday, 18 August 2012

Classic Stewed Zucchini and Meatballs

Yesterday was one of those "remember why you went paleo" days.  I ate bad things, I suffered.  It wasn't pretty.  Sometimes we need those.  Its a little like hitting a "reset" button.

Did you see the pic of the zucchini I posted on my FB page?  It was HUGE!  Longer than my forearm and more than twice as thick.  That's the problem with buying zucchini local and in season.  Those things get ridiculously huge, and then you have to eat it all week long, because they don't store well either.  But at the local market (I went to Stroud Farms), they were 2/$5.  So I was only going to buy one, but then I saw the yellow ones, equally huge, and thought---hmmmm, could I make a paleo friendly mac and cheese with yellow zucchini?  So now I have two of those beasts, and my "things with zucchini" week began.

Have you made my zesty italian dressing yet (recipe here)?  No?  Have you ever used salad dressing to saute things with? It adds an incredible amount of flavour to foods, a whole new (and simple) level of flavour.  AND you can use the leftover spice blend to sprinkle ontop of meats, too.  It goes great as a spice rub on chicken.  It makes an awesome flavour enhancement to tomato sauce.

This is a really simple recipe.  Its honestly just meatballs, tomato sauce, zucchini and red peppers.  Remember the old formula; meat, veg, and seasoning.  Everything else is just flavour enhancement and optional.

Also, you could make your own tomato sauce for this, whatever way you like yours, but this is the one I use most often on all MY things italian-ish...  And if you choose to consume dairy without fear, then try the recipe with 1/4 c parmesan in the meatballs and skip the hemp hearts altogether.  I made it that way the first time and it was the best meatball recipe ever.  I just don't always love diary.  I was recovering from crap food last night and didn't want to push my luck.

So here's what I did last night.

Classic Stewed Zucchini and Meatballs

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 5-6 servings


1 1/2 lbs ground meat
1 small or 1/3 large mild onion, minced
1/8 c real parmesan cheese (optional)
1/8 c hemp hearts
2 eggs
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbs dried parsley
1 tsp fennel seeds
salt and pepper 

Mix all ingredients and form into 1 1/2 - 2 inch meatballs--no bigger or they will be impossible to turn over in the frypan.

Zucchini and Sauce
1 lb zucchini, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, chopped
1 small or 1/3 large mild onion, chopped
1 large can (680ml) tomato sauce
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs zesty italian dressing (or cooking oil)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 T dried basil
1 T dried oregano
2 tsp hot pepper flakes
hemp heart to garnish


So first things first.  Prep.  You already have your meatballs formed, right?  Now, get your zucchini, onions and pepper cut up and ready to go.  Next, heat up a really large frypan over med-high.  Next, saute the onions and peppers in a bit of the zesty italian dressing for 5 minutes.  Add your zucchini and saute for about 2 minutes more.  The zucchini will only be halfway cooked, don't worry.  Now remove it from the pan and set aside.  Let the pan get good and hot again.  

When it's really hot, sear your meatballs in a bit of the zesty italian dressing, or in some cooking oil of your choice.  They don't need to cook through yet.  Don't worry.  Once they're seared a bit, add balsamic vinegar, tomato sauce and spices.  Turn the heat down to just below medium, cover, and let it simmer until the meatballs are cooked through.  If you're in a real rush, skip the searing of the meatballs as they will cook just fine in the sauce.  But searing does impart a better flavour if you DO have time.

When meatballs are no longer pink and sauce is beginning to thicken, add zucchini mix and cook 5 minutes more or until zucchini is al-dente.  Done. Garnish with hemp hearts or additional parmesan when serving. 

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