Meatless Monday Zucchini "Meatballs"

  

I know I shouldn’t write with my mouth full, but to be honest, I couldn’t wait to finish shooting these photos...the aromas from these "meatballs" are incredible.  Besides, it’s probably a good idea to describe them to you whilst actually eating one… for accuracy’s sake, you know.

But reallly, I would have had no problem remembering how wonderful they are and describing them to you in minute detail… sort of creamy and cheesy on the inside, with a nice little zucchini flavor and texture; crisp and crunchy outside, with an amazing cheese-y essence from the parmesan and asiago... little “meatball” flavor bombs.  

 

And yes, they are fried.  Some of us do have reservations about frying our food, and I’ll admit that I sidelined this recipe for a few weeks for that very reason.  But in the end, I decided to just bite the bullet and do it.  But I also thought I’d experiment by baking half of the meatballs to see if I could achieve a decent crust that way.  But sadly, even though I baked them at 450 degrees, the baked meatballs sort of softened and melted down before they browned and they never really achieved the flavors of the fried ones.  So, I guess frying really is the way to go here.

But it’s oh so worth it, people.  Man are these ever good.  And if you’ve got zucchini overtaking your garden, there are worse ways to use them, I’ll tell you.  But be sure and pick them while they’re still on the small side, as that’s when you’ll get the most flavor from them and have fewer seeds to contend with.

 

These are also super easy to make.  Just chop your zucchini, then cook and drain it well. 

Combine it with the eggs, cheese, herbs and breadcrumbs and form into little balls. 

Then coat them in breadcrumbs and sauté until brown and crispy.  Let cool and serve with the tomato salad.

 

Yes, folks.  Zucchini meatballs rock.  We loved em and think you will too.  Here’s the recipe…   

Zucchini Meatballs

Click here for a printable recipe

Recipe courtesy David Rocco

These little "meatballs" just explode with flavor.  They'd be perfect for a party appetizer if you chopped the zucchini a little smaller and then formed them into little bite-size morsels.  If you want a more "sauce-y tomato condiment, you can pulse the tomatoes a couple of times in the food processor to create more of a sauce.  I tried that and it was just wonderful. I also substituted asiago cheese for the scamorza and it was fantastic, and substituted panko breadcrumbs in the coating, which made them even crispier.

Serves 6

Meatballs

3 medium zucchini, chopped

1 cup/250 ml smoked scamorza, cubed (I used grated Asiago)

1 cup/250 ml Pecorino cheese (I used a combination of grated pecorino and parmesan)

Small bunch fresh mint leaves, finely chopped (about 2-3 tablespoons)

2 eggs

1 cup/250 ml bread crumbs

1 1/2 cups/375 ml extra-virgin olive oil, for frying

2 cups panko breadcrumbs for coating


Tomato Salad

20 cherry tomatoes, halved (I used salad tomatoes)

4 fresh basil leaves, torn

Salt

1/4 cup/50 ml extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

For the meatballs: 

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the chopped zucchini, bring back to a boil and cook for 4 minutes. Drain the excess water from the zucchini. Transfer the zucchini to a sheet pan and allow to cool. Squeeze out the excess water from the boiled zucchini.

In a mixing bowl, add the zucchini, scamorza cheese, Pecorino cheese, fresh mint leaves, eggs, and bread crumbs. Mix well until the ingredients are evenly distributed. With your hands, shape the meatballs into the size of golf balls. Coat the meatballs in panko bread crumbs.

Heat olive oil in a deep frying pan. Gently place the meatballs into the hot oil and let fry until golden and crispy. Transfer to a plate lined with an absorbent paper towel to drain the excess oil. Serve with the tomato salad.

To make the tomato salad: Add the cherry tomatoes, basil, and salt to a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and mix together.