Remember several weeks ago when I shared the recipe for Vodka Sauce, and I promised I’d have another recipe that used the sauce?!? Well this is that recipe! This is by no means a fancy recipe – but oh my goodness – it is tasty! It’s also one that’s super family friendly, because what kid doesn’t like meatballs and tomato sauce??? Plus if you choose to add gooey cheese like I did for my husband…it’s a “winner winner meatball dinner” that will have everyone anxious to dig in! Now there’s no need to let on to certain family members that they’re eating a super lean and healthful meal. If you’d rather keep that secret to yourself then I say “Go for it”! Sometimes that’s just not a battle that we want to fight at mealtime!
The very first thing you’ll want to do is start soaking the cashews for the vodka sauce about 3 hours before you intend to make it. I made the sauce the day before and that certainly shortened prep time the evening I made these. You can find the vodka sauce recipe here! For the meatballs, you’ll need ground turkey, a couple eggs, panko bread crumbs, mushrooms, bell pepper, onion, basil, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, and olive oil. All those ingredients get mixed together and dropped by a cookie scoop (yes-I’m lazy-I don’t even roll the meatballs. I just plop them on the baking sheet with a cookie scoop and call it good! 😜) onto a non-stick baking sheet. Alternatively you could certainly spread a little olive oil on a regular baking sheet and you’d be good to go! Then pop ’em into a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes until they’re cooked through. You will likely have more meatballs – the recipe yields 36 – than you’ll need to stuff the zucchini, but luckily the meatballs freeze well!
Rich and creamy and oh-so-yummy Vodka Sauce!!!
Once the meatballs are baked it’s time to assemble the zucchini subs. After cleaning the zucchini, slice it in half lengthwise (medium size zucchini work best for this recipe) and scoop out the seeds. Season each half with a little salt and pepper, place as many meatballs as you can
cram fit into the hollowed out zucchini, top it with a generous portion of vodka sauce, and with provolone or mozzarella cheese if desired. I used just a sprinkle of Parmesan on mine in order to avoid too much dairy, and it was delish!
Once the Zucchini Subs are assembled, loosely cover the dish (I used a 9 x 13 for 2 zucchini) with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and golden. The size of the baking dish and the baking time will vary depending on the number and size of zucchini you are preparing. My zucchini were fairly decent sized, so they took a bit longer to cook. And I just have to say – the leftovers the next day were just as delicious as the first serving!!!
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup finely chopped mushrooms
- 1/2 cup bell pepper, any color, finely chopped
- 1/3 cup minced onion
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Vodka Sauce ~ link to recipe above
- 2 to 3 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and seeds scooped out
- Cheese of choice for topping subs ~ mozzarella, Parmesan, or provolone are excellent choices
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Combine turkey, eggs, 1 cup of panko, mushrooms, onions, peppers, spices, and olive oil.
- Mix well and check to see if the mixture is tight enough to hold together. If not, add an additional 1/2 cup of panko as needed.
- Using a cookie scoop, place mounds of turkey mixture on non-stick or greased baking sheet.
- Place in oven and bake 25-30 minutes, until thoroughly cooked.
- Place prepared zucchini in a baking dish.
- Fit as many meatballs into each prepared squash as possible.
- Top with a generous amount of vodka sauce, then cheese.
- Loosely cover the baking dish with aluminum foil.
- Bake 25 minutes* at 350 degrees, then remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes until the zucchini is cooked, the cheese is browned, and the sauce is bubbly.
- *Baking time may need to be adjusted up or down depending on the size of the zucchini.
- Leftovers are excellent!