Italy meets Middle East meets US Health Nut. This dish is a blend of different ethnic backgrounds, flavors, and food style-- yet all seem to pair together rather nicely.
I created this dish to formulate a completely plant-based version of a traditional spaghetti and meatballs; one that has all the same great flavor components, yet doesn't come with that hefty price tag of bloat, indigestion, and undesirable heaviness!
What's great about this recipe is that you're sneaking in the wholesome benefits of consuming plants without even realizing it!
- Trade pasta for zucchini noodles, and you are getting full off of zucchini's high water content vs the empty calories from traditional white pasta.
- Swapping homemade falafels for meatballs gives you a good dose of plant-based protein, fiber, manganese, and folate, which keeps you full, promotes good digestion, bone development and brain cell communication.
- With making your own pesto, you have the option of making it dairy-free, and using fresh herbs and seasonings without the processed chemicals that you find in typical jarred pesto.
Let's get to cooking.
Falafel 'Meatballs' with Homemade Pesto Zucchini Pasta
Tools you'll need:
Note: For this recipe, I utilized the Moosewood Cookbook's recipe for Falafels, which I linked here. To make the falafel gluten free, I recommend using Bob's Redmill all-purpose GF flour. Otherwise, the remaining ingredients are listed below.
For the pesto:
1 cup fresh basil leaves, stems removed
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove fresh garlic, peeled
1/2 cup raw walnuts
juice of 1/4 lemon
dash of water
sea salt + pepper to taste
For the 'pasta:'
1 zucchini (per person)
Directions: I recommend prepping your falafels first, as these are the most time-consuming compared to the rest. However, know that you can always make a big batch, and then store half or so in the freezer to enjoy at a later date for something quick and delicious!
To prepare the pesto, you'll need a blender or food processor. Place all ingredients inside, and blend until desired consistency. You may need to occasionally scrape down the sides of the processor, as the basil leaves like to fly everywhere at first :) Set pesto aside.
Next, wash your zucchini and cut off the top end. Spiralize the zucchini (which is undoubtedly the most exciting part!). You'll be left with incredibly long veggie noodles and an interesting looking zucchini stump that perhaps you can let your dog or cat have a little fun with.
To prep the noodles and pesto together, you can totally leave as is and serve this portion raw if you choose. Personally, I like to have my dish warmed by just placing the noodles in a pan over medium-low heat and gradually stir in the pesto until well mixed. You want to be cautious here to not actually cook the noodles, as this will cause the dish to be watery and soggy. Do it just enough for the noodles to get warm enough and the pesto melts in!
Add your falafels on top, garnish with basil, and there you have it.