These Paleo meatballs are tender, flavorful, and low carb. Try them on top of a bed of spiralized zucchini noodles for a super satisfying, healthy dinner!
Please welcome back Becky Winkler of A Calculated Whisk, who will be sharing some of her favorite Paleo recipes from time to time on the blog.
When I first started eating Paleo, I was suspicious of zucchini noodles. An avid pasta fan since childhood, I didn’t think a mere vegetable could come close to satisfying my cravings for actual spaghetti.
Once I actually got started spiralizing, though, I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly zoodles won me over. They’re easy to make, very low in carbohydrates, and boast a beautiful green hue that traditional noodles can only dream of.
The actual experience of eating zoodles doesn’t even feel that different from eating regular spaghetti—they are just as long and twirly, and soak up sauce just as well. They’re the perfect counterpart to these paleo meatballs, which are packed full of flavor without any grains or nuts.
The secret ingredient in these Paleo meatballs is actually stone ground mustard. It rounds out the flavor profile and acts as a binding agent, but you’d never know it was in there if you hadn’t added it yourself.
Make sure to check the ingredients in your mustard carefully if you’re following a strict Paleo diet. Some brands contain sweeteners or wine.
We’re also throwing a bit of dried oregano and parsley, garlic powder, and minced shallot into the meatballs to give them classic Italian flavor. A touch of baking soda helps keep the meatballs tender since we aren’t using breadcrumbs.
To make the meatballs, we just mix everything together by hand and form it into balls with an ice cream scoop. Next, we bake them for about 20 minutes.
I prefer oven-baked meatballs because they hold their shape much better and the cleanup is much easier. Also, while the meatballs roast, you’ll have plenty of time to julienne some basil, cook your zucchini noodles, and warm up your sauce.
The finished meatballs are browned on the outside, tender on the inside, and basically irresistible. If you don’t feel like making zoodles, they’re also delicious just plain!
For the zoodles
6 large zucchini
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon (14 g) extra virgin olive oil
For the meatballs
2 pounds lean ground beef
2 medium shallots or half a medium onion, minced (about 1/2 cup)
2 eggs (100 g, weighed out of shell)
2 tablespoons (18 g) tapioca flour
2 tablespoons stone ground mustard
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce, warmed
1/2 cup lightly packed basil leaves, julienned
Preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
Trim the ends from the zucchini and spiralize them with the small noodle blade of a spiralizer (or julienne peeler). Place the zucchini noodles in a colander lined with paper towels, add the salt, and toss to combine. Set the zoodles aside while you make the meatballs. The salt will draw out some of the excess moisture so they won’t be soggy.
To make the meatballs, place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix with your hands until all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Form about 3 tablespoons of the mixture into a ball, using an ice cream or cookie scoop if desired. Place the shaped meatballs on the prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart from one another. Repeat until you’ve used all the meat. You should have about 20 meatballs. Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until browned on top and cooked through.
When the meatballs have about five minutes left, cook the zoodles. Heat the olive oil in a very large skillet over medium heat. Add the zoodles and cook, tossing frequently with tongs, until cooked to your liking (about 5 minutes for al dente). Serve the zoodles and meatballs hot topped with the warm tomato sauce and julienned basil.
Becky is a food photographer, recipe developer, and cookbook author who shares creative paleo and gluten-free recipes on her blog, A Calculated Whisk. Her first cookbook, Paleo Planet, includes internationally inspired paleo meals, desserts, sauces, spice blends, and more. Becky enjoys searing short ribs, chopping chocolate, photographing citrus fruit, and salting desserts. She lives in Chattanooga with her fiancé and his cat.