Cauliflower is an extremely versatile vegetable — it tastes fantastic steamed, boiled, roasted, sautéed. But we've also seen cauliflower in the form of a pizza "crust," as "rice" or "couscous," as a "steak," as mashed "potatoes" and even as tater-less tots. Cauliflower is even being baked into cakes and pureed into mac and cheese. By getting creative with preparation and transforming the actual form of the vegetable, we are able to eat the guilty stuff without the guilt.
With this cauliflower recipe, we're able to eat fluffy meatballs without the heavy calories and fat. First, the cauliflower is roasted to soften the vegetable and release its velvety flavors. Then, it's pureed with sautéed onions and garlic to further enhance its taste and form the base of the meatballs. They're then tossed with fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs, oregano, parsley, salt, pepper, egg and feta.
The addition of the feta in these cauliflower meatballs makes for a luxurious first bite, as the soft cauliflower melts in your mouth with the salty, low-fat cheese. Most importantly, the feta complements the Moroccan spices in the spicy harissa tomato sauce. As you simmer the sauce, your kitchen will smell exotically delicious.
Harissa is an easy, flavorful way to add spice to a tomato sauce. Combined with the savory flavors in the cauliflower meatball and the light taste of the zucchini noodles, this bowl of pasta has it all.
While the zucchini noodles can be cooked with the sauce to soften and heat them, the noodles are served raw in this recipe. Then, a generous scoop of the spicy tomato sauce is placed atop the bed of noodles. As the sauce fills the bowl and coats the noodles, it lightly cooks them as well. Of course, the cauliflower feta meatball is the "cherry on top" of this pasta. With a pinch of freshly chopped parsley, this elegant bowl of noodles is complete.
These meatballs are meant to be a softer consistency than a regular meatball. When your fork dives into the fluffy cauliflower meatball, it melts into the tomato sauce and softly creates a cauliflower Bolognese.
This dish is a double whammy — we're turning zucchini into pasta and cauliflower into meatballs for a "spaghetti and meatballs" without the spaghetti or meatballs. It may sound odd, but once you dig your fork in and twirl those zucchini noodles around your fork with a bite of the cauliflower meatballs, well, you'll understand.
Cauliflower feta meatballs and spicy harissa tomato zucchini noodles recipe
Makes 6 meatballs and 3 bowls of zucchini noodles
- 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3/4 cup diced red onion
- 1/2 cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs (see note below)
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta
- 1/4 teaspoon oregano flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon parsley flakes
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 (15 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, no salt added
- 2-1/2 tablespoons harissa sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 5 medium zucchini, spiralized
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 415 degrees F.
- Place the cauliflower in a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Season with garlic powder, salt, pepper and toss together to combine. Bake for 20 minutes, turning halfway.
- While the cauliflower is baking, place a medium skillet over medium heat and add half of the olive oil. Then, add in the onions. Cook the onions for 3 minutes and then pour out the contents of the skillet into a food processor and set aside. Once cauliflower is done, add it to the food processor along with the onions and pulse until pureed.
- Pour the puree out into a bowl. Add in the breadcrumbs, egg, feta, oregano, parsley and season with salt and pepper. Stir together and form large golf ball-sized meatballs and place in rows on a baking tray. Bake for 20 minutes.
- While the meatballs are cooking, place a large skillet over medium heat and add in the rest of the olive oil. Add in the garlic, cook for 30 seconds and then add in the tomatoes and harissa sauce. Stir to combine and then add in the cumin, coriander and season with salt and pepper. Stir and let reduce, about 10 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed and the sauce is chunky.
- Place the zucchini noodles in bowls and top each with a scoop of the sauce. Then, place 2 meatballs on top of each bowl and garnish with parsley.
Place 1 piece of whole-wheat toast into a food processor and pulse until made into breadcrumbs.