Juicy, tender and delicious beef meatballs with zucchini and Parmesan, this is one of our favorite meatball recipes.
ZUCCHINI BEEF MEATBALLS
I am starting with a big statement today: these beef meatballs with zucchini are the juiciest, most delicious meatballs I have made in a long time!!! No kidding!!!
And to tell you the truth, I can get pretty enthusiastic with most of them and I would praise them as well, but these ones… ahhhh, they were so good, I don’t even find the words anymore…
The flavors were just amazing, I used the best ground meat I can buy from Angus beef grazing on wide fields around our village, zucchini, and dill from my friend’s garden, eggs from the neighbor’s hens and fresh breadcrumbs from homemade bread. If there was ever an overly organic meatball, this was it! 🙂
And even better than the taste was the consistency of these meatballs. Perfectly tender and delicate and juicier than any meatball I have ever tasted.
It must be the zucchini in it, you cannot really taste them, they are so mild and their taste gets easily covered by the beef, dill and Parmesan taste, but you can feel those zucchini, that is the juiciness they add to the meatballs.
Another great thing about these particular balls is that you can get fussy eaters into eating zucchini without them even realizing it. I chose not to tell my kids what exactly they were eating, I just said we have meatballs and that was it.
They ate lots and loved them and wished me to make them again soon and they didn’t even change their mind after I revealed to them what exactly was inside. They just didn’t care anymore. 🙂
TIPS FOR MAKING GOOD MEATBALLS
- Choose meat that contains some fat, about 15-20 %. My grandmother would always say that the fattier the meat, the better the meatballs, but I prefer not to use as much fat in my cooking as she did.
- Regular ground beef usually has 20% fat, while ground pork about 35%.
- My favorite kind of meatballs is made with a mixture of beef and pork. However, these meatballs with zucchini are made with ground beef only.
- In order, to impart the meatballs extra juiciness we add the grated zucchini, eggs, some fresh breadcrumbs, and grated Parmesan. These ingredients add moisture and that helps loosen the meat.
- Shred the zucchini on a box grater and squeeze it in your hand (in batches) to remove the excess moisture. However, don’t squeeze them completely dry, just enough to remove the extra water.
- Chop the onion as finely as possible, you don’t want to bite on large bits of onion in the meatballs. Grate them (if you can stand it) and definitely grate the garlic.
- Use fresh or frozen dill, dried dill won’t do in this dish. Fresh dill is bursting of flavor, while dried dill tastes dusty.
- Flatten the meatballs lightly after forming them, that helps them cook more regularly. It is not mandatory though, you can give the meatballs a round form, especially if you want to serve them as part of a cold buffet.
- Use a good non-stick or cast-iron pan to reduce the amount of oil needed for browning the zucchini meatballs.
- Brown the meatballs shortly in the pan and finish cooking them in the hot oven. Don’t overcook them, check after 5-6 minutes in the oven already. They should not be red in the middle anymore, yet still moist and juicy.
- You can serve the meatballs with zucchini immediately with mashed potatoes and salad or vegetables.
- Or you can serve them with a simple marinara sauce over noodles.
- You can serve them cold as part of a cold buffet.
- And if you have leftovers, you can slice the cold meatballs and pack them in a sandwich with some good mustard, some sliced tomatoes and a couple of salad leaves.
BEEF AND PORK MEATBALLS – Meatballs Romanian style: juicy, garlicky, full of herbs and flavor.
SPANISH MEATBALLS IN TOMATO SAUCE – Spanish tapas – albondigas or Spanish meatballs, these are some of the best meatballs in tomato sauce, Spanish food at its best.
POLISH MEATBALLS – Comforting and delicious Polish meatballs stuffed with mushrooms and served with mashed potatoes and pickles.
VEGETABLE MEATBALL SOUP – The best meatball soup there is!!!
MEATBALL POTATO CASSEROLE – A layer of potatoes, one of spinach, meatballs, and cheese: all combined into one dish. What could you want more?
PIN IT FOR LATER!
Beef Meatballs with Zucchini
- 1 kg/ 2.2 lbs ground beef
- 200 g/ 7 oz/ 1 not too large zucchini
- 1 onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- a handful fresh dill
- 40 g/ 1.4 oz bread
- 40 g/ 1.4 oz/ 3.8 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 2 eggs
- fine sea salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or more as needed
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius/ 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line one or two baking trays with parchment paper.
- Grate the zucchini finely and squeeze out excess liquid. Don't overdo it, you still want to have some moisture, just squeeze lightly to remove what is too much.
- Grate the onion and the garlic cloves finely as well. Grate the Parmesan. Chop the dill finely. Remove the crust from the bread slice and crumble the bread with your fingers to obtain crumbs. Beat the eggs lightly.
- Place the beef, zucchini, onion, garlic, Parmesan, dill, breadcrumbs, and eggs in a bowl. Add salt and pepper generously and mix everything with your hand. Add some more salt and pepper to taste.
- Form the meatballs, I had 35 medium ones. Press them a little flat with your hand.
- Heat one tablespoon vegetable oil in a large skillet and start frying the meatballs, about 2 minutes on each side, in batches. As they are ready, transfer them to the prepared trays. Add another tablespoon oil in the skillet, if necessary, and continue the process with the rest of the meatballs.
- Bake the meatballs for 7 or 8 minutes. Serve as suggested above.