Zucchini “Meat”balls (Vegetarian)

Oh my gosh guys – the stores are insane. I’m not ashamed to say that I had a full blown melt down in the middle of the store yesterday (tears and all) when I had to scrounge to find a can of crushed tomatoes for my weekly grocery shop in the midst of a sea of people trying to get that exact same can. But since people are stockpiling canned goods, I was happy to see that there was still lots of fresh produce available. What calms me down is knowing that I’m still able to do some of the things that I enjoy, keeping a bit of a sense of normality – and while I’m not able to snowboard with the mountains closing due to the outbreak – I can still enjoy my indoor activities like cooking and painting!

And alas here we are with another “Will It Skillet?”! While the store was clean out of meat – I was still able to get my hands on some vegan ground (which is equally as delish if you ask me!). These meatballs are really good, trust me. They’re soft, tender, moist, flavourful and super versatile! That’s pretty much what you’d ask for in a normal meatball, right?

They’re versatile – you can use them as an appetizer, in a meatball sub or like I did over pasta or veggie noodles in your favourite marinara sauce! If you’re vegan, you can leave the egg out and use your preferred vegan binder.

One thing I really love about these is that the zucchini adds so much texture and moisture to the meatballs. Sweating the zucchini and onions first is important, because it helps to get rid of excess moisture, and it adds flavour. Even though we still want moist meatballs, if you have too much water in them, they’ll simply fall apart. Cooking them first also helps to add even more flavour!

You can add in whatever kind of goodies and seasonings you like – you could do a Greek one with oregano, lemon and feta, a Thai one with curry and ginger – I mean, these are a pretty blank slate for your taste bud adventures! Get wild and creative with these!

What else I love about them is you can cook the meatballs in the same skillet that you cooked the veggies in! It’s perfect! If you’re like me and you’re serving them in a sauce, you can even cook the sauce in the same skillet – it’s one pan perfection! These can also be made ahead and frozen – baked or unbaked! To freeze them, spread them apart in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet (either raw or baked) and freeze. Once they are frozen, you can take them off the tray and store them close together in an airtight freezer bag or container!

When meatless Monday hits, or you wanna sneak in those extra veggies – get creative with these balls! They are:

  • Quick and easy;
  • One pan;
  • Make ahead/meal prep friendly;
  • Vegan friendly (just use an egg substitute)
  • Versatile – you can season them however you want and serve them however you like;
  • Moist and tender with a crispy outside;
  • A delicious solution to your meatless Monday menu!

Zucchini “meat”balls

  • 2 cups grated zucchini (about 1 medium sized zucchini)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced (or to taste)
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 large egg (or vegan substitute)
  • 340 g. vegan ground (I use Litelife ground or beyond meat)
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp. each dried basil, thyme & orgeano, or to your taste
  • Chili flakes, to your taste
  • Favourite sauce, noodles, or bread for serving
  • Basil for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 fht.

In a cast iron skillet (or non stick if you must!), heat up olive oil. Add grated zucchini, onion, garlic and salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for around 8 minutes, until veggies have softened and have started to sweat and the water has started to come out.

While the veggies are cooking, put a fine mesh strainer over a bowl, or get a sheet of cheese cloth ready in a bowl or sink.

When the veggies are done, they need to be drained. Either drain them into a strainer and press with the back of a wooden spoon until you’ve drained the liquid out, or squeeze the liquid out through cheesecloth.

Place drained veggies in a large bowl with the vegan ground, egg, breadcrumbs, and spices. Get creative with the spices and use whatever you like!

Roll into 2 inch balls, making sure you make them tight and compact so they don’t fall apart, and place back in your cast iron skillet, making sure they aren’t touching each other.

Bake at 375 fht. for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through, until the outsides are brown and crispy.

Serve with basil and marinara sauce over your favourite noodles or pasta, serve as a meatball sub with cheese or simply serve as an appetizer – get creative! šŸ™‚

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