A new tradition is born: “Vegetable of the Week”!
The other day, my sister and I decided that we would introduce more vegetables to our own and our family’s diet. Not that we eat unhealthily, but with the weather getting cold and the craving for comfort food is setting in, it is becoming tempting to see vegetables as colourful decoration on a plate of protein and carb.
So we decided to launch the “Vegetable of the Week”. The idea is that EVERY week we pick a vegetable that we will both prepare AT LEAST ONCE THAT week. Also we will share our recipes with each other so that we can choose to cook the other’s recipe or to prepare a different dish. It’s as simple as that.
This recipe seemed to me to be the perfect kick-off.
You must understand, our pact is not about chewing on more raw carrots, it is about introducing more veg into our regular everyday eating routines. And what better start than a common meat dish that replaces some of the meat with vegetable.
Without further ado……. I present to you …….the first “Vegetable of the Week” (drum roll):
Zucchini (in chicken meatballs)
This recipe ticks all the boxes: it has a fabulously healthy vegetable playing the central role, it is ever so tasty (the zucchini adds amazing moisture to the meatballs), it is quick and easy to prepare and did I already say: it is tasty! A recipe by Ottolenghi (whom I have raved about
before – socca, lentil with celeriac).
You could make this dish using ready-ground chicken mince. But I prefer using boneless chicken thighs and blitzing them in my food processor (chicken breast would also work well, although it has a little less flavour).
There must be an endless amount of side dishes you can serve these tasty little morsels with: some pita bread and a little salad. Add some pulses and fold them into mung bean wraps or go all veggie and prepare some cauli tabouleh and steamed green beans.
(adapted from Ottolenghi’s ‘Jerusalem’and inspired by the blog ‘The Iron in You’)
About 20-25 meatballs
1 large (or 2 small) zucchini (courgette)
1 medium onion, finely
500g organic boneless chicken thighs (or chicken breast or ground chicken)
2 tbs mint (you cannot skip the mint! J )
2 tbs parsley
2 egg whites (or 1 large egg)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp turmeric (optional)
- Preheat oven to 200C (400F).
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Chop the mint and parsley.
- If you have a food processor: use the grating disk to shred your zucchini and onion. Insert the chopping blade. Cut the chicken into chunks and together with the chopped herbs, egg white and seasoning. Blitz just long enough for the mix to come together. Do not overwork.
- No food processor: Chop the chicken meat finely. Grate the zucchini and onion finely. Combine with the chopped herbs, egg and seasoning.
- Using a spoon drop meatballs onto the baking sheet (the mixture will be rather moist compared to traditional meatballs)
- Place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes. Check them once in a while as you want them cooked, but only just done so they stay moist. (Usually they will flatten out a little instead of staying perfect little balls – but believe me: the flavour will make up for that)
- Tortilla or pita bread, a dollop of yoghurt and a little side salad
- Mung bean wraps instead of pita
- Or spelt flat bread
- Cauliflower tabbouleh and steamed green beans
Some of the health benefits
- Depending on the size, one meatball has just 28.5 calories, with almost no fat (0.3 grams), just 1 grams of carbs and an outstanding 5.3 grams of protein.
- Zucchini is one of the very low calorie veg – 17cal per 100g (nutrition and you)
- It is a very good source of potassium, an important intra-cellular electrolyte. Potassium is a heart friendly electrolyte and helps bring the reduction in blood pressure and heart rates by countering pressure-effects of sodium.(nutrition and you)
- A source of magnesium which like vitamin C protects your tissues from harmful free radicals. It supports the function of glycosyltransferases, a family of proteins that promote healthy bone tissue development. Manganese also helps your body produce collagen essential for efficient wound healing. Each cup of chopped zucchini boasts 0.22 milligram of manganese. This provides 12 and 10 percent of the Institute of Medicine’s recommended daily intake for women and men, respectively. (livestrong)
- High in fiber
- Beta carotene