Last week I kicked off the year with my Spaghetti Carbonara blog post and how I want to make 2017 the year of eating real food. Food that feeds a family, is affordable, enjoyable and contributes to a balanced diet. As I discussed there is so much pressure to eat clean or raw and to avoid certain food types such as gluten or dairy because they are considered bad for you. Many people are simply left with hefty shopping bills since self-appointed nutritionists are providing people with confusing information that we should cut out all gluten or go on a heavy alkaline diet and undermining the more conventional way of healthy eating. The whole concept of healthy eating is now a complete mess. The fact is, it is only a very small % of the world that cannot eat gluten for example and those people have been clearly diagnosed by actual doctors.
Chia seeds, avocados, nut based butters, matcha, numerous amounts of expensive portions of veg a day, nuts, coconut oil – who can really afford this? And is it really that good for you? The thought of all the calories in those ingredients and the cost of all that going on my weekly shop bill are making me shudder as I write this. But there is one health fad that I have become a big fan of – courgetti. It is a fantastic replacement for pasta and is one of the reasons I initially started to get inspired by the likes of Hemsley & Hemsley as a way to cut down on things such as carbs and sugar.
As much I love to cook pasta dishes I do accept that we cannot eat a big bowl of pasta every night and we should cut down on carbs. But pasta is a popular go to dish for two main reasons, it is cheap and is quick to make. I know only too well how easy it is to reach for that packet of pasta and while I have never been into ready made jars of sauces and always made my own, courgetti has given me the chance to still cook a quick and easy meal while feeling guilt free about that carbonara the night before!
Buying enough courgettes to feed a family is more expensive than a bag of pasta but eating healthier does come at a little extra cost. However, it shouldn’t be a significant change to your weekly shopping bill. This recipe is under no other false illusions. It isn’t smothered in avocados or some kind of nut based pesto, or cooked in coconut oil or filled with 10 portions of veg. It is just good, honest food. A bag of fresh spinach goes a long way so I make sure to include in other meals that week. Alternatively, a great money saving tip is to buy frozen spinach and just take a bit when you need it to add to sauces and stews. I also add breadcrumbs to the meatballs as it prevents them from falling apart but you can make them a day before and leave out the breadcrumbs as they will firm up in the fridge and not disintegrate in the pan. You will also need a spiralizer for this recipe. I just use a handheld one that are cheap to buy.
- 2 courgettes (spiralized)
- Olive oil
- Small bunch fresh parsley (finely chopped)
- Small bunch fresh coriander (finely chopped)
- 3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
- 1 small onion (peeled and very finely chopped)
- 1 small onion (peeled and finely chopped)
- 500g mince beef
- 1 tbpsn dried smoked paprika
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbpsn tomato puree
- Handful of fresh spinach
- 50g dried beadcrumbs
- 1 tbpsn dried chilli flakes
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 red chilli (finely chopped)
- Salt/ pepper
- In a mixing bowl add the mince beef, lemon juice, half of the fresh parsley and coriander, the very finely chopped onion, 2 cloves of garlic, chilli flakes and breadcrumbs. Mix everything together properly using your hands until well combined. Then mix into small balls. About 1 and half tbpsn size of the mixture and then roll into smooth balls. Place in the fridge until needed.
- Heat a dash of olive oil in a large/ deep frying pan. Add the meatballs and cook on each side until starting to brown. Plate up the meatballs and leave to one side for later. Add the other onion to the pan and cook for 2-3 mins until starting to turn golden brown and then add the paprika, chillies, garlic and tomato puree. Mix well then pour in the tinned tomatoes. Add the meatballs back to the pan and carefully give everything a stir so that the meatballs are covered in the sauce. Cook on a medium heat for around 8-10 mins, giving it a stir every couple of mins.
- Spiralize the courgetti. Then heat another frying pan with a dash of olive oil. Add the courgetti, remaining fresh parsley and coriander and cook into the pan on a medium heat for just 1-2 mins, giving it a good stir to make sure the herbs and mix in well with the courgetti.
- Take the meatballs off the heat and stir in the fresh spinach. Season with salt and pepper.
- Plate up the courgetti and the meatballs on top.