homemade dairy-free meatballs with zucchini, and gradually adapting my recipes to U.S. ingredients

Hello neighbors! Adding grated zucchini to an otherwise traditional but dairy-free meatball mix is all is takes to make them moist – without compromising their taste, I promise!

Ingredients: (serves four)

250g lean ground beef (preferably organic or grass-fed)

– 1 egg

¾ cc natural sea salt, without any additives – in the U.S. I use Celtic sea salt. Also please note that my meatballs will not taste very salty, a personal choice because of the store-bought tomato sauce that goes on top; feel free to adjust the amount of salt to your liking.

– 6 TBSP breadcrumbs – in the U.S. I buy Nature’s Promise gluten-free panko bread crumbs; in France I crush gluten-free crackers

– up to 2 tsp Herbes de Provence

– about 3 medium-size zucchini; only some of it will be grated, and the rest will be added to the dish


– some olive oil to be used when shaping the meatballs and also to cook the zucchini.

– one 25oz (709g) jar of tomato sauce – store-bought for now, hopefully homemade come summer!

How to:

1. Place all the ingredients from the first list in a large bowl. Coarsely grate 50g zucchini into the bowl as well and combine everything by hand. Note: depending on your personal preference, you may or may not want to peel the zucchini.

2. Preheat your oven to 190°C / 370°F.

3. Shape meatballs in oiled hands and arrange in a baking dish. Bake meatballs as is to start with, for about 30 minutes.

                   before baking
            after 30 minutes of baking

4. Meanwhile, cut zucchini in small even pieces and cook in a little olive oil.

5. Pour tomato sauce over the partially cooked meatballs, gently lifting them from the bottom with a spatula so they won’t stick.  Add zucchini and bake an additional 20 to 25 minutes.

                                       a glimpse of what they look like inside
                                You can freeze the meatballs either raw or fully cooked.

I have had the hardest time finding tomato sauce or canned vegetables here in the U.S. without any added citric acid. Reading the ingredients list on every can was very time consuming at first! I finally settled for a jar of 365 (Whole Foods brand) basil tomato sauce. It does contain a little onion but not enough to make my husband sick – fingers crossed, he hasn’t had any reaction in the two and a half months that we have been here. I have already mentioned my difficulties recreating some of my recipes using the ingredients I find in U.S. stores. Well, here are some good news: after several trials, I finally got my gluten-free pie dough to be exactly the way I wanted it. If you are interested, here is the link to my update.  I have also found finely ground brown rice flour on a site called Vitacost. It was totally by accident, because originally I was only looking for vitamin D3. And just to set the record straight, they are not sponsoring me, nor are any of the other brands I mention! I simply share what makes my recipes better, or at least trustworthy. I never lie or enhance my photos, dear neighbors, and so I would hate to disappoint because of a difference in ingredients.

Let me finish on a pretty note: after what seemed like the longest winter of my life, spring has finally decided to arrive in New England. As I strolled around the neighborhood this afternoon, I spotted the bright duo of colors generated by a forsythia entwined with a Japanese quince (Chaenomeles japonica). Of course had to take a picture. Isn’t it beautiful? 

So long, take care, dear neighbors, wherever you might be!



    1. Yes, we can finally plan a trip to a garden center and spruce up the small patch of land around the house! I have been “spying” on other people’s yards to get an idea of what we can safely grow, as far as flowers and shrubs. It will be nice to be outside digging in the dirt again 👩🏻‍🌾

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s