Zucchini can be cooked in many different ways: for tasty first courses, appetizers or side dishes. One of the most classic and popular zucchini recipes is undoubtedly zucchini meatballs.
The delicate flavor of zucchini meatballs makes them practically irresistible. You can serve them as an appetizer, as a main course or as a finger food.
This is a quick and easy recipe. The ingredients needed to make zucchini meatballs are few and very common. Generally we have them in the fridge. The preparation is also simple.
Cook the zucchini in a pan, then mix them with plenty of parmigiano cheese, breadcrumbs and egg and make the meatballs. Finally, coat the zucchini patties with a crispy breading.
You’ll get golden and crispy parmesan zucchini bites that will blow everyone’s mind!
Zucchini meatballs are delicious freshly cooked, but they have the added bonus of being even tastier when eaten cold. What better idea, then, for an outdoor spring picnic?
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How to Make Zucchini Meatballs (Polpette)
- Prep Time: 20 Min
- Cook Time: 10 Min
- Yelds: 6/8
For the Zucchini Polpette
- 500 g (1,1 lb) of Zucchini
- 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 whole egg
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
- 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
- 120 g (1 cup) of grated Parmigiano cheese
- 60 g (1/2 cup) of breadcrumbs
- 220 ml (1 cup) of Grapeseed oil for frying
For the Breading
- 1 whole egg
- 130 g (1 1/4 cups) of breadcrumbs
Kitchen Tools and Equipment
To make Zucchini Meatballs , you need for sure a cutting board on which to prepare the diced zucchini. The plastic cutting boards that are easy to wash even in the dishwasher are very handy and practical.
Step 1) – To make the zucchini meatballs, first prepare the zucchini. Wash them thoroughly under running water. Then dry them and remove the ends, do NOT peel them. Cut the zucchini into pieces about 2 cm (3/4 inch) thick.
Step 2) – Place the zucchini in a large non-stick skillet with the extra virgin olive oil, peeled garlic cloves and a pinch of salt.
Cook the zucchini over medium heat until soft, but not completely undone (about 5 minutes). Add chopped parsley and discard, if any, excess liquid formed during cooking. Remove the garlic and let the zucchini cool.
Step 3) – When the zucchini have cooled completely, pour them into a large bowl. Add the grated Parmigiano, the whole egg and finally the breadcrumbs. Mix everything together very well.
Step 4) – Now with the zucchini mixture make meatballs. The zucchini balls should not be very large, about 4 cm in diameter (1 1/2 inch).
Then in a separate dish beat the egg with a fork. In another plate put the breadcrumbs instead.
Step 5) – Now you need to bread the meatballs. So, dip the meatballs one at a time, first in the beaten egg and then in the breadcrumbs. Press the breadcrumbs all over the meatballs so that it sticks well. Keep going until all the patties are breaded.
Step 6) – Heat the frying oil in a large skillet. When the oil is hot, place the meatballs and fry them for about 8-10 minutes, until they are golden brown. Using a fork, turn the polpette very gently halfway through cooking.
Step 7) – Drain the meatballs with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to remove excess oil.
The zucchini meatballs are ready! Serve them hot or cold, as you prefer. They will be a real success!
Baked Zucchini Meatballs
Instead of pan-frying the zucchini meatballs, you can bake them. This way you will have a lighter version even if a little less crispy.
If you want to bake the meatballs, it’s best to let the mixture rest for about an hour in the refrigerator before making the balls.
Then just dip them in breadcrumbs (no eggs) and place them on a baking sheet covered with baking paper.
Pour a drizzle of oil and bake in a preheated oven at 180°C (350°F) for about 20 minutes, turning them halfway through cooking.
As we have said, zucchini meatballs can be enjoyed both hot and cold. However, in order not to lose their crunchiness, it’s best to eat them within 12 hours.
However, you can stored them covered for 1 day in the refrigerator.
If you want to prepare the zucchini meatballs ahead of time, you can keep the already breaded meatballs (still raw) in the refrigerator covered for about 12 hours. When it’s time, take them out of the refrigerator and fry.
You can freeze them raw in a single layer. They keep in freezer for about one month.
Zucchini Meatballs: Some Variants and Ideas
The Zucchini Meatballs recipe that we have shown you is very simple and requires the use of few ingredients. We could consider this a basic recipe that can be easily enriched or modified according to your tastes and preferences.
Want some suggestions?
You can add, for example, some crumbled sausage cooked with the zucchini. Or you can add diced ham or mortadella to the mixture of the polpette.
You could enrich the zucchini meatballs with other types of cheeses instead/or in addition to Parmigiano. For example pecorino or feta cheese to make the meatballs tastier.
You can also flavor the zucchini meatballs with mint or lemon zest to give a touch of freshness.
Zucchini Meatballs with a Melting Heart
To enrich the zucchini meatballs and make a fun version for your friend and family, you can insert a small piece of mozzarella in the center of the ball.
When you bite into the zucchini meatballs you will find a cheesy and melting heart, fun and very greedy!
Soft Zucchini Meatballs
If you want to have a creamier consistency, you can replace 60 g (1/2 cup) of grated Parmigiano with 120 g (1/2 cup) of fresh Ricotta. You can also blend the zucchini instead of leaving them in pieces.
In this way you have a very creamy mixture that pleasantly contrast with the crunchiness of the outside. However, in this case, it’s better to make very small meatballs because the creamy consistency in large quantities would risk becoming cloying.
Zucchini Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
Make a tomato sauce cooking about 500 g (2 cups) of tomato passata in a pan with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, basil and a clove of garlic for about 20 minutes.
Then you can choose whether to cook the zucchini balls directly in the sauce, for a lighter version, or fry them as indicated above and then put them in the tomato sauce.
In this way you have a complete main dish to be served with crispy bread or to be used even to season pasta.