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Meatball Marinara Zucchini Boats

Prep Time: 45 mins

Cook Time: 2 mins

Servings: 8

Lean turkey meatballs are nestled inside hollowed zucchini and baked in a rich homemade marinara sauce. We've used almond meal in place of flour to keep this grain free!

Ingredients:

  • FOR THE MARINARA:
  • 3 (24 oz) containers of mini tomatoes (multi-color if possible)
  • 3 bulbs garlic, peeled/trimmed/cloves removed
  • 1 large white onion, peeled and chopped
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1-2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • salt/pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • FOR THE MEATBALLS:
  • 40 ounces lean ground turkey
  • 1/3 cup almond meal
  • 2 ounces grated parmesan
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • cracked black pepper
  • drizzle olive oil
  • ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 large zucchini
  • 8 ounces shredded mozzarella
  • extra parmesan and fresh basil for garnish

Directions:

For the Marinara:
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Divide the containers of tomatoes, garlic cloves, and rough chopped onion into two large casserole dishes. Drizzle with olive oil (about 2 tablespoons per dish) and toss until everything is coated in the oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper.
When your oven is heated, place the casseroles inside and roast for 45-60 minutes. When it’s done, the tomatoes will have just a little char around the edges and they will have released some of their juices.
Place the tomato mixture and all juices in a large bowl and blend with an immersion blender until smooth. (You can use a traditional blender as well, just let the mixture cool slightly first)
Transfer the mixture to a large pot and add a tied bundle of fresh thyme. Add the wine, sugar, oregano, and season with salt/pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat. Simmer over low heat for 1-2 hours to thicken slightly and intensify the flavor.
For the Meatballs:
Bring oven temperature to 400 degrees. While the marinara cooks, combine all of the meatball ingredients (except olive oil) in a large bowl. Mix just until the ingredients are fully incorporated. Using meatball tongs or your hands, portion small 1½" balls and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the meatballs and bake for 20 minutes. Move the meatballs around after 10 minutes. Remove and drain the meatballs on paper towels.
To Assemble:
Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Slice the zucchini in half to make long boats. Using a melon baller, scoop most of the zucchini flesh out, leaving a wall along the sides and bottom so it keeps its structure. {reserve flesh for another use}. Bring a large pot of salted water to a rapid boil. Place the zucchini halves into the water and boil for 1 minute. Remove and drain the zucchini. Ladle marinara into the bottom of a large casserole. Set the hollowed zucchini boats down in the marinara, placing them snugly side by side to fit them all in the casserole.
Sprinkle the zucchini with a little salt/pepper then place a little marinara into the bottom of each boat. Place meatballs in a line on top of the marinara in the boat. Ladle more marinara over the meatballs.
Cover the entire casserole with the shredded cheese and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes, remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.
Use two spatulas to serve zucchini. Garnish with grated parmesan, fresh basil, and marinara from the bottom of casserole.

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