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This week’s blog is inspired by a dear friend, Nicole! We met in college and have remained friends throughout the years! Recently she made some huge moves in her life and we reunited to celebrate. Nicole dazzled me with this amazing Zoodles and Meatballs recipe. She moved about her kitchen with such ease and grace. When I asked her how she managed to be so poised and hardly look at a recipe she told me this was in her “wheelhouse”. I loved that. There are only a few recipes I know by heart and even then I tend to refer to something just to make sure. Nicole’s confidence in the kitchen and the delicious dish really lit a fire within me to try something new this week.

I’ve made meatballs in the crockpot in the past but I’ve never really been open with my meatball struggles. Nicole’s meatballs were delicious. She knew what to do and how to make these well-seasoned balls of meat in just enough time to girl chat and reminisce on old times! In my experience, I tend to overcook my meatballs- even in a crockpot. How is that even possible? Watching my friend pan sear her meatballs first was eye-opening for me. Surprisingly, that was something I had never tried. I did some research and had my hand at it. My experience was positive this time, my only complaint was the lack of seasoning in the actual meatballs. By pan searing and letting them finish cooking in the sauce, there wasn’t a single tough meatball in the bunch!

Making the sauce was also a pleasant surprise as well. I followed my recipe until I was forced to go rogue based on flavoring alone. I added a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes because I love a good kick! While I wasn’t impressed with my meatballs, my sauced turned out extremely well! Ultimately, the goal is to encompass the poise of my comrade in her “wheelhouse”, but there’s nothing more inspiring than seeing the success of an old friend.


Zoodles and Meatballs

What You Need:DSC_0030.JPG

Meatball Ingredients

  • ½ lb. 80/20 ground beef
  • ½ lb. ground pork
  • ½ cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 Tbsp. finely ground sweet onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 cup finely ground Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Vidalia onion, finely minced
  • 3 carrots, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 28 oz. cans of Italian crushed plum tomatoes
  • 1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 to 3 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 to 3 zucchinis or pasta of preference

Instructions:
Click here to Cook With Me!

  • Prepare meatballs by combining all meatball ingredients, except oil, into a large mixing bowl. Using your hands, knead the meat mixture several times until the ingredients are evenly combined, careful not to overwork the meat.
  • Clean and lightly oil hands. Next, shape the meatballs into golf-ball-sized portions, placing them onto a flat surface until no more meat mixture remains.
  • Preheat a Dutch oven over medium heat; add oil. Add meatballs into a single layer, careful not to overcrowd the pan, and working in batches if necessary. Brown the meatballs on all sides, about 2 minutes or so per side to form a brown crust.
  • Remove meatballs to a plate to rest, repeating the browning procedure until no more meatballs remain.
  • After meatballs have all been browned, drain the excess grease from the Dutch oven and place it back onto the stove over medium-high heat. Add remaining oil, followed by the onions and carrots and sauté until just tender, about 8 minutes.
  • Next add garlic, bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper. Use a wooden spoon to push ingredients towards the outer edges of the pot, creating a well in the center.
  • Add tomato paste into the center, and toast the paste by stirring it every so often until it is slightly charred.
  • Deglaze the pot by adding the red wine and allow the liquid to reduce by half, about 5 minutes. Finish by adding the crushed tomatoes into the pot. Add Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes. Allow the mixture to come to a slow simmer.
  • Carefully add the browned meatballs back into the sauce to cook through. Allow the liquid to return to a slow simmer, cover and reduce heat to low, and allow the meatballs to cook for another 15-20 min.
  • Prepare spiralized zuchini or al dente pasta.
  • Serve meatballs and sauce over zoodles and enjoy!

Cook With Me:

  • Prepare meatballs by combining all meatball ingredients, except oil, into a large mixing bowl. Using your hands, knead the meat mixture several times until the ingredients are evenly combined, careful not to overwork the meat.DSC_0032
  • Clean and lightly oil hands. Next, shape the meatballs into golf-ball-sized portions, placing them onto a flat surface until no more meat mixture remains.DSC_0034.JPG
  • Preheat a Dutch oven over medium heat; add oil. Add meatballs into a single layer, careful not to overcrowd the pan, and working in batches if necessary. Brown the meatballs on all sides, about 2 minutes or so per side to form a brown crust.DSC_0036.JPG
  • Remove meatballs to a plate to rest, repeating the browning procedure until no more meatballs remain.DSC_0037.JPG
  • After meatballs have all been browned, drain the excess grease from the Dutch oven and place it back onto the stove over medium-high heat. Add remaining oil, followed by the onions and carrots and sauté until just tender, about 8 minutes.DSC_0040.JPG
  • Next add garlic, bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper. Use a wooden spoon to push ingredients towards the outer edges of the pot, creating a well in the center.
  • Add tomato paste into the center, and toast the paste by stirring it every so often until it is slightly charred.DSC_0042.JPG
  • Deglaze the pot by adding the red wine and allow the liquid to reduce by half, about 5 minutes. Finish by adding the crushed tomatoes into the pot. Add Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes. Allow the mixture to come to a slow simmer.
  • Carefully add the browned meatballs back into the sauce to cook through. Allow the liquid to return to a slow simmer, cover and reduce heat to low, and allow the meatballs to cook for another 15-20 min.DSC_0052
  • Prepare spiralized zuchini or al dente pasta.
  • Serve meatballs and sauce over zoodles and enjoy!DSC_0062.JPG

Inspired by this recipe.

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