July 26, 2015

Greek Noodles with Gyro Meatballs

This is my new favorite summer dinner which is a twist on the classic Greek gyro.  It's a "pasta" salad, but the pasta is actually zucchini noodles.  Warm meatballs are served on top, along with a dollop of homemade tzatziki sauce.  It's a light but filling summer dinner.  There are so many great summer veggies in season right now, and this dish embraces two of them: zucchini and tomatoes!

For the tzatziki sauce, the base was homemade coconut yogurt (future blog post), but I normally would use Greek yogurt.  (Also, the coconut yogurt did not taste "coconutty" at all.)  Tzatziki sauce always tastes better the next day after the flavors more deeply marinate.  Tzatziki sauce is great for the summer because it's such a refreshing, cooling dip that pairs well with grilled beef,  chicken, and even fish.

I'm not a fan of lamb, so I made the meatballs with ground beef.  The meatballs were easy to make.  Next time, I'll use fresh oregano to even make it even more flavorful.  Meatballs freeze well, so you could even make a double batch so that this recipe is even easier (and quicker) next time you want to make it.  Believe me, you'll want to make this again!

The spiralizer is one of the most popular kitchen toys right now.  It turns fresh veggies into faux noodles.  I use zucchini most often on my spiralizer.  With some easy cranks, the spiralizer turns the zucchini into an extra-long pile of curled ribbons.  I then tossed the "zoodles" with some lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, and sea salt.  I added in some halved cherry tomatoes and red onion slices.

To serve, just add the meatballs and a dollop or two of the tzatziki sauce to the noodles, and enjoy!  This has all of the great flavors of a gyro and is a perfect healthy summer dinner!  Next time, I think I will make chicken souvlaki to serve on top of the noodles.

Greek Noodles with Gyro Meatballs
Yields 4 servings

For the "Noodles" (or Zoodles!):
4 zucchini
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

For the Tzatziki Sauce:
1 small cucumber
3/4 cup yogurt
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. dried dill
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. salt

For the meatballs:
1 lb. ground beef
1 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

Feta cheese, optional

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  In a medium sized bowl, mix all of the meatball ingredients together until everything is incorporated.  Cover the bowl, and allow the flavors to marinate at room temperature for a half hour.

While the meat marinates, prepare the tzatziki sauce.  Peel and shred the cucumber.  After the cucumber is shredded, wrap the shredded cucumber in a towel (paper towels are fine) to squeeze out as much of the water as possible.  Then, combine the shredded cucumber with the rest of the tzatziki ingredients. Cover and refrigerate.

Peel the zucchini and use a spiralizer to turn them into noodles.  Alternatively, you could also julienne them.  Place the noodles in a large bowl and toss with lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, and salt.  Half the cherry tomatoes and thinly slice the onion, and add those ingredients.  Mix and allow to marinate.

After the meat has finished marinating, form the meat into 2-inch balls and place them on a rimmed baking sheet.  Place them in the oven, baking for 25 minutes, or until no longer pink in the center.

Serve the meatballs on top of the zucchini pasta with a large dollop of the tzatziki sauce.

Source: Adapted with a few modifications from Against All Grain

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