Last night I was craving a bowl of pasta with meatballs and sauce (well, maybe not the meat part, but you get the idea). Something oh-so-comforting and delicious that was high on flavor, nutrition, and that peculiar satisfaction only an Italian meal with sauce can deliver. High fives were all around the table after one bite, and it was light enough that we all had room for a chocolately little dessert. Buon appetito!


Serves 2-3


2 cups cauliflower rice

1 cup cooked quinoa, room temperature

1/4 cup fresh chopped herbs such as basil, parsley, and/or oregano

Optional: I clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup gluten-free or paleo flour

2 eggs, beaten*

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (if you prefer a stronger flavor profile)

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast or grated Parmesan

1to 2 tablespoons olive oil (to brown the meatless cauliflower balls)

*To make these meatless meatballs vegan, replace each egg for 1 tbsp ground flax seeds + 3 tbsp water.  Mix ground flax and water well and let sit for 5 minutes before adding to mixture.


3 to 4 medium zucchini, “zoodled,” or 1 to 2 packages of prepared zoodles

1 garlic clove, mined

1 tablespoon olive oil


1 large jar of Rao’s or Lidia’s Sauce (my favorite New York sauces – I know, they are not organic…my “cheats”).

If you and your crew like sauce as much as I do, you might want to pick up a second jar, or add 15 oz can of fire roasted diced tomatoes (Muir Glen’s is good) to the Rao’s or Lidia’s (sorry, Rao + Lidia…).



Fresh basil leaves, chiffonade, or just the baby leaves sprinkled on top

Shaved Parmesan, or a dusting of nutritional yeast if you prefer dairy-free


1. Combine all the meatball ingredients (except for the oil to brown the meatballs) in a large bowl. Set aside.

2. Prepare the ‘meatballs:’ Form evenly sized balls, and arrange in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. For larger meatballs, the yield will be 12 to 15 balls. For smaller, hors d’oeuvres size balls, the yield is 20 to 22.

3. Heat the Sauce: In a medium sauce pan, heat the large jar of sauce with the fire roasted tomatoes over medium heat. Turn down the heat once it starts bubbling. 

4. Brown the ‘meatballs:’ Heat the oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat, and working in batches, place the meatballs in a single layer with an inch between each meatball. Cook over medium heat, 2-3 minutes per side, the larger may require 1 to 2 minutes longer.

5. Sauté the zucchini noodles: Heat a little olive oil over medium-high heat, and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, or until al dente.

6. To serve: Divide the zucchini noodles between plates, top with sauce, a few “meatballs,” and a little garnish of fresh basil. You can also add shaved parmigiana reggiano or nutritional yeast.

Copyright 2018 Lisa Roberts Hurd/FOOD.BODY.SOUL.


Italian-Style Cauliflower-Quinoa ‘Meatballs’ over Zucchini Noodles with Marinara Sauce

Italian-Style Cauliflower-Quinoa ‘Meatballs’ over Zucchini Noodles with Marinara Sauce