Grain-free Pesto Pasta and Meatballs with Sauteed Garden Veggies


Have you seen the zoodle craze going around the food blog world right now?  This popular trend of taking a zucchini and using a spiralizer or peeler to make long, thin “noodles” as a healthy low-carb alternative to pasta seems to be just about everywhere.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love myself a good plate of zoodles.  I even have multiple recipes for zoodle dishes!  However, when you crave pasta, don’t think a big bowl of spiralized zucchini is going to cut it.  Because at the end of the day, they are simply zucchini; tasty in their own way, but not worthy of filling the pasta stomach pang.  Enter garbanzo bean noodles.

I found this brand of pasta, Banza, made out of garbanzo beans a few months ago.  It was love at first bite!  Here is a grain-free, low-carb, high-protein alternative to pasta that actually has the taste AND texture of regular pasta.  Winning!  The first time I made this past winter, I whipped it up with some meatballs and opened a jar of my homegrown, homemade sauce from last summer.  The dish was everything you want out of a pasta bowl and more!

Now that it is summer (and I am currently out of my jarred sauce from last year and impatiently awaiting my tomato plants to start producing!), I opted to whip up a batch of pesto from my rapidly growing basil plants and sauté some garden-fresh zucchini and farmers market tomatoes.  Of course I lined my plate with fresh cut chard and kale from my garden before piling up the pasta, which you don’t have to do.  But let’s be real…we everything tastes better with kale 😉

I promise that when I say “swap your regular wheat pasta with this healthy low-carb, high-protein bean pasta – you won’t be able to tell the difference”  I mean it! This stuff is the real deal, and when combined with my pesto, meatballs, and sautéed garden veggies – you got yourself a total show-stopper meal!


Grain-Free Pesto Pasta and Meatballs with Sautéed Garden Veggies

serves 4

1 box Banza pasta

1/2 batch basil-hemp pesto (recipe follows)

8 classic meatballs, heated (recipe follows)

1 recipe sauteed garden veggies (recipe follows)

chopped raw kale and chard, or greens of choice for plating – optional


Cook the pasta according to instructions on the box.  Drain and return to the pot.  Add the pesto and meatballs, stir well.  Plate the pasta and meatballs on greens if desired, then top each plate with a healthy portion of sauteed garden veggies.  Enjoy!

**I was not paid to advertise for Banza, all opinions are my own.


Basil-Hemp Pesto
2 cups loosley packed basil leaves

1/3 cup hemp seeds, toasted*

2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil + more as needed

2 garlic cloves, minced

salt and pepper, to taste

1/3 cup pecorino romano cheese

*to toast the hemp seeds, line a baking pan with tin foil and spread the seeds out flat in one layer.  Bake at 350 for 5-7 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until seeds are golden brown.


Add the basil, hemp seeds, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil to the base of a high speed blender and process until smooth.  Add the cheese last and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add more oil if a thinner consistency is desired.



Classic Meatballs

1 lb free-range ground beef

1 lb free-range ground pork

1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley

1/4 cup fresh chopped basil

1/2 cup pecorino romano cheese

2 large eggs

1/2 cup breadcrumbs*

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

*I make my own breadcrumbs from two slices of sprouted bread.  I simply bake the bread until it is dry, then break it up and add it to a food processor to turn into breadcrumbs.  For a grain-free version you can sup almond flour for the breadcrumbs


Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Line a rimmed baking pan with tin foil.

Add all the ingredients to a large bowl and mix by hand until just combined.  Shape into 1 1/2 inch balls either by hand or with a melon scoop.  Place in the lined baking pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Allow to cool completely before storing the leftovers.  These keep in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 2 months.



Sautéed Garden Veggies

2 small green zucchini, organic skin-on

2 cups organic cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1 medium yellow onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 Tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp fresh chopped basil

2 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley

1 Tbsp fresh chopped oregano

1 Tbsp fresh chopped chives


Add the oil and onions to a pan and saute over medium heat until onions are translucent, about 5-7 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant, about a minutes.  Add the zucchini and tomatoes, turn the heat down to medium low, and cover the pan.  Cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring every few minutes or so until veggies are tender.  Add the fresh herbs and cook another minute, then season with salt and pepper.  Serve warm.

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