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Photo by Fran Hill.
Photo by Fran Hill.

Don't Tell Roger

Aug 22, 2013



I don’t believe in hiding vegetables. I may sometimes puree, process and pulverize something grown in the soil for the sake of a better recipe, but it will never be done sneakily. If I am going to the trouble to get the food processor out to thoroughly thrash an onion, I will most likely be telling you about it as I whine about washing the darn thing. However, I am making an exception today. I will completely condone not telling my fellow South Dakota Magazine columnist, Roger Holtzmann, about the zucchini in my meatballs.

Mr. Holtzmann has a strong disdain for zucchini, or as he calls it, “ghastly white sludge.” He fears being forced to eat a baked good containing the added moistness and nutrition of zucchini and even goes as far as promoting legislation to criminalize sneaking the vegetable into chocolate cake.

I, obviously, don’t agree with him. I bake cakes, cookies, muffins, breads, and pies with shreds of zucchini. I sauté slices and ribbons and serve them alongside my grilled chicken and steaks. I slow cook purees with warm spices to make “fruit” butters. I haven’t met a zucchini that I didn’t like, and I have now taken it past the baked goods and side dishes on to a meatball delight.

Usually, my go-to meatballs have the added nutritional bonus of spinach. We love them with a plate of pasta and topped with my chunky homemade sauce. This summer, I have replaced the spinach with a zucchini recipe that we enjoy just as much. I am sure that Roger will want me drawn and quartered for what he will deem to be a travesty against mankind.

As with the spinach, zucchini adds additional moisture to the lean beef and makes a more tender meatball. Garlic, basil, and parsley flavor the mixture, along with onion. The veggie-loaded meatballs are the perfect summer pairing for mouthwatering garden sauce and a pile of spaghetti. You probably just don’t want to tell Roger.


 

Zucchini Meatballs

Adapted from Buck ‘n Run Ranch Blog

1 pound ground round
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced
1/2 cup grated zucchini, liquid squeezed out and discarded
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Preheat oven to 375F. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Do not over mix, or the meatballs with be too dense. Divide the meat mixture into 12 portions and roll into meatballs, about golf ball size. Arrange the meatballs on a sheet pan sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Meanwhile, heat your favorite pasta sauce in a large pot and start water boiling for pasta. Finish the meatballs by simmering in the pasta sauce while the pasta cooks. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired. Serves 4.

 

Fran Hill has been blogging about food at On My Plate since October of 2006. She, her husband and their two dogs ranch near Colome.


Comments

09:25 am - Thu, August 22 2013
LaVida Dickinson said:
If you peel the zucchini, Mr. Holtzmann will never know. I hope his wife puts zucchini in many dishes!
09:33 am - Thu, August 22 2013
LaVida Dickinson said:
I'd love your spaghetti sauce recipe too.
10:02 am - Thu, August 22 2013
Roger Holtzmann said:
Oh, the pain! the pain! I didn't think my revulsion at the mere THOUGHT of zucchini could get any worse, then Ms. Hill mentioned PUREED zucchini.

Backward reels the mind ...

The knowledge that liquefied zucchini can be used in virtually any recipe means I must redouble my efforts to pass my legislation.

On another note ... zucchini in meatballs? Really? Is nothing sacred?
09:04 am - Fri, August 23 2013
Heidi said:
Roger, it can be lurking anywhere.
09:34 am - Fri, August 23 2013
*Just Fran* said:
LaVida -- I will work on getting the recipe down for the spaghetti sauce. I have a basic idea that I use and customize based on what I have on hand.

Roger -- Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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