These meatballs get lightened up with some quinoa and ricotta and then tossed with a rich red sauce and healthy zucchini noodles for a healthy weeknight dinner.
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So, have you gotten into the spiralizing trend yet? I was actually a bit of a slow adopter – you might recall veggies are not exactly my favorite food group! I’m getting much better at incorporating them into my diet and have found that making zucchini noodles is one great way to do it!
Actually, spiralizing works for just about any veggie but zucchini is my favorite, as I like to use it as a substitute for traditional pasta. It works well with just about any sauce!
Like all recipes, this one started out with an idea which was to make meatballs a little lighter and healthier by adding ricotta and quinoa. A photo of some pasta nests provided the initial inspiration but somehow after a couple of test runs I decided that zoodles made more sense, and the idea turned into this recipe, which I’m loving!
notes from the kitchen
- Using a dough scoop to make meatballs ensures they are basically uniform in size, which allows them to cook evenly. I use a tablespoon sized scoop for the meatballs in this recipe.
- You can make the zucchini noodles ahead of time and save them in the refrigerator for a couple of days. I’ll often so a big batch of them at the beginning of the week. Be sure to squeeze the excess water out before you refrigerate them to they don’t get soggy.
- I use ground beef in this recipe, as I like the way the flavor combines with the ricotta and quinoa but you could use ground turkey if you don’t eat red meat. I’d recommend using ground turkey thigh if you are going to make that substitution so you get a little more flavor and texture in the meatballs.
- For the sauce, I use a really easy red sauce that I make from scratch, but you can use your favorite red sauce recipe or a jarred version if you prefer.
things you may want for this recipe
Dough Scoop – You may be used to using dough scoops for making cookies, but they are also super useful for meatballs.
Handheld Spiralizer – If you are super into spiralizing veggies, I’m sure you already have one but if it’s something you’ve been wanting to try, this OXO spiralizer is a great way to try it out. It’s small so not a lot of storage space required and at $15 you won’t feel too bad if you only use it a few times.
Quinoa & Ricotta Meatballs with Zoodles
- ½ pound lean ground beef
- ½ cup diced onion
- ½ cup cooked quinoa
- 2 tbsp part-skim ricotta
- 1 tsp steak seasoning
- 1 tsp dried minced garlic
- ¼ tsp ground pepper
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten
- 2 cups red sauce
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 medium zucchini
- Preheat the oven to 350°.
- In a medium bowl mix the ground beef, onions, ricotta, quinoa, steak seasoning, garlic, salt, and pepper. Add the egg white and mix well until completely combined.
- Using a 1 tbsp dough scoop, form the ground beef mixture into balls. Form a total of 12 meatballs.
- Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook for 1 minute. Turn them to an unbrowned side and put the pan in the oven to bake for 10 minutes.
- While the meatballs are cooking spiralize the zucchini. Once spiralized place on a plate covered with paper towels and press the excess moisture out.
- Once the meatballs are done cooking return the pan to the stove top over medium heat. Add the red sauce and cook for 5 minutes. Add the zucchini and continue to cook until the sauce is heated, about 2-3 minutes.
- Serve immediately, topping with grated parmesan if desired.