Thank you to Hunt’s for sponsoring this post and encouraging my culinary skills!
Visit Hunt’s Signature Recipe Collection to find tons of delicious ideas
for using Hunt’s tomatoes in your meals.

You guys.

Last night I had a run-in with the law.

And by law…I mean a bag of a certain chocolatey-delicious shell filled with a peanut butter/confectioner’s sugar mash-up also known as the only chocolate candy worth eating EVER.

Umm yeah. Same thing.

It was a make or break kind of moment.

Like when you’re driving and you hear those sirens go off behind you.  And you’re like uh, not me.  So in that moment as the panic creeps up, you can either speed away as fast as you can and hope that no one decides to chase you or send a SWAT team or open fire.

Or you can pull over like the complacent citizen you are, listen to the officer try to tell you that you went through a stop sign that you know for sure doesn’t exist.  Bat your pretty eyelashes, say you’ll never do it again, and get away with a warning.

You know…one of those moments.


So I had a stare-down with that bag of orangey gold foil covered chocolate treats.

I stared them down as I unwrapped 8 ounces worth of them.  And then I stared them down some more as I chopped those 8 ounces into itty bitty pieces.  And then again as I swirled them into a peanut butter banana bread batter.

And then, right when I couldn’t possibly stare them down anymore without some sort of short circuiting in my brain and/or olfactory bulb (really…you start to smell them as soon as you open the bag. It’s intoxicating.)  The moment happened.

I had a choice.

I could either eat the other 11 ounces of peanut butter cups in that bag.  Or. I could not.

It sounds easy, but in that second, it’s the hardest choice to make.  All you can feel is hedonism and the intense to desire to coat your entire being (especially your tastebuds) in a chocolate/peanut butter mix.

And all you can hear is alarms going off in your mind screaming NOOOOOOOOOO.

And then a knock at the door tells you that the peanut butter cup police are at your door, and what are you going to do?!?!?!?


We’re reaching the point in January where resolve starts to waver and these forks in the road seem to be coming at us at an increasingly breackneck speed.

But maybe it doesn’t have to be so binary.  Maybe we can have one peanut butter cup.  And then put the bag down.

Maybe it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

Because this isn’t about one day.  It’s about a lifetime.  And a lifetime without peanut butter cups…that’s just unrealistic.  But so is a lifetime of eating entire bags of them in one sitting.  It’s your choice.

Making good food choices is easier when you have healthy ingredients in the cupboard and healthy, EXCITING recipes on your menu plan.  Personally..I’m always excited by ethnic spices and exotic flavors.  Especially curry.

So when Hunt’s sent me a few of their products and told me to go forth and create!  I knew I wanted to make some kind of fusion between the Italian fare we usually think of when we see tomato sauce and tomato paste and canned diced tomatoes…and the Indian flavors that I crave almost constantly.

After spying a recipe for zucchini “meatballs” in one of my Madhur Jaffrey cookbooks, I knew the direction I wanted to take.  Gingery zucchini meatballs, bound with chickpea flour for an extra dose of fiber and protein, paired with a tomato-curry sauce and all served atop of a creamy yet creamless polenta.  Though Jaffrey’s “meatballs” were fried, I baked mine with excellent results, making this a delicious meal that you can feel good about.

Really.  We have enough of those forks in the road to health to contend with.  Let’s not make dinner one of them.

For more Eat.Live.Be. inspiration, check out Sarah’s, Cate’s and Patsy’s blogs!

Picnik collage

Zucchini Meatballs and Curry-Tomato Sauce over Polenta
Serves 4, adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s World of the East Vegetarian Cooking


  • 3 medium zucchini, about 1-1.25 pounds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 hot green chili, seeded and minced
  • 3 tbsp finely minced onion
  • 1/2 tsp peeled and very finely grated ginger
  • 2 tbsp parsley, finely minced
  • 1/3 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium-sized onions, peeled and very finely minced
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 14 oz can Hunt’s petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 cup polenta
  • salt, to taste


  1. Wash, trim and grate the zucchini.  Put it into a bowl and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt.  Set aside for half an hour.
  2. Squeeze as much liquid as possible out of the zucchini by pressing handfuls of it between your palms.  Save the zucchini liquid for the sauce.  Dry off the bowl and put the zucchini back into it.  Add the chili, 3 tbsp onion, grated ginger, and parsley.  Sift the chickpea flour over the vegetable mixture.  Mix well and form 16 balls.
  3. Preheat oven to 400.  Spray zucchini meatballs with cooking spray.  Place on a silpat or parchment paper on a large baking pan.  Bake for 40 minutes, turning once halfway through.
  4. While zucchini balls are cooking, make the sauce.  Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  When hot, put into the minced onions.  Stir and fry for 7-8 minutes or until the onions begin to turn brown at the edges.  Take the pan off the fire for a few seconds and add the turmeric, cayenne, ground cumin, and ground coriander.  Stir once and put the pan back on the flame.  Stir for another 5 seconds.  Add the tomatoes.  Stir on medium heat for 5 minutes.  Add the zucchini juice (about 1 cup.  Add water if there is not enough.)  Bring to a boil.  Cover, lower heat and let the sauce simmer gently for 15 minutes.
  5. Add the almond milk, garam masala, 1/2 tsp cumin, and salt to taste.  Mix well.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  6. Cook polenta according to package directions. I usually just use cornmeal when I’m feeling lazy, which cooks up in 5 minutes.
  7. Spoon the sauce over the polenta and serve topped with zucchini meatballs.
Thank you again to Hunt’s for sponsoring my post. Find more ideas for cooking with tomatoes at Hunt’s Signature Recipe Collection. I was selected for this opportunity by the Clever Girls Collective. All opinions expressed here are my own. #HuntsRecipe #spon


You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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93 Responses to Zucchini "Meatballs" and Curry-Tomato Sauce Over Polenta…Eat.Live.Be.

  1. How creative! These “meatballs” look delish. I always love your Eat.Live.Be posts. 🙂

  2. Simply Life says:

    I’ve never craved a meatball so badly..and at 7:30am – this looks fabulous!

  3. bellini says:

    I have bookmarked this recipe for when there are lonely orphan zucchini left on my doorstep. The entire ssh sounds “drool worthy”>

  4. Pam says:

    Saving this for zucchini season.

  5. Lora says:

    I love alternative “meatball” recipes. This looks like a winner!

  6. Well, I am pretty much distracted by the idea of a banana bread filled with peanut butter cups but I recognize that really isn’t relevant to this post:-) I need to remember what you say about it not being all or nothing and get these meatballs in my kitchen asap.

  7. Such a great combination zuchini, tomato and polenta! We have a recipe in france which uses exactly these 3 ingredients. Its one of my favourites! Joanne your meatballs inspire me to try new ideas out. thank u soo much for sharing.

  8. Zucchini meatball – you reckon you can convince your mum its meat?:)

  9. Monet says:

    What a wonderful recipe! These would be great with pasta or polenta or even as an afternoon snack! I have a feeling that we’ll be making a batch soon. How could I not with an ingredient list like that? Polenta…zuchini…ginger…onion. Delicious.

  10. Katerina says:

    Oh, gosh, I think lately I hear these sirens more and more. I am in an age now at which my metabolism starts to slow down and that means that I will have to refrain from many of my unhealthy, but oh so dear, bad eating habits. I was always thin and if I plan to remain this way, I will have to put such bags as yours down and just start eating the zucchini balls. I love zucchini and I would love eating this beautiful dish you made, but deep in my mind, very deep in hippocampus I will always retain the memory of all the sweet little sins of my past.

  11. Amy says:

    Chickpea flour? What the what?? Need to investigate that one. These look quite good, Joanne. And where the hell were you last night when I needed you at 9pm…I had a choice – go to bed or eat a few baked snap peas (which aren’t nearly as healthy as they sound.) I ate half a bag. Fail.

  12. These look amazing! I love zucchini, it’s such a versatile vegetable. I love the idea of making them into meatballs. Yum! The best part is the kick of heat you put int hem. I have to try these!

  13. Elizabeth says:

    I hear ya. I need to learn some effin moderation. I was hanging at a friend’s house last night and we made brownies. There is no reason that I should eat have the pan. moderation…

  14. And this shall be my next vegetarian meal!! Love that your served the “meatballs” over creamy polenta!

  15. I really do love this recipe. It is one of those that you see a photograph of and you really wish that it was sitting in front of you on a plate, right now. We are trying to cut back on the amount of meat we eat in our house, and my husband and son, who love curry and felafel respectively, will definitely love this. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  16. Suzi says:

    What a fantastic meal. Love the combination of ingredients. Can’t wait to make those zucchini balls. So glad you shared this.

  17. you just made my day! thank you for these awesome meatballs – fake meat meatballs creep me out!

  18. Danielle says:

    The curry tomato sauce has me drooling – I love Indian flavors.

  19. Ben says:

    And that’s why I decided to live in a lawless land. I can’t take the guilt! Hehe.

    Great recipe!

  20. I am certain that you are the veggie guru.
    you make vegan eating why more delicious than any meat dish.
    love love love this girl

  21. Jenna says:

    You hit the nail on the head when you said “Making good food choices is easier when you have … EXCITING recipes on your menu plan.” That’s part of the reason I’m always making something new. =) And by the way, I made your poached eggs with tomato and swiss chard recipe Monday night (substituting kale for the swiss chard) and it was magical, healthy, and incredible. I’m not exaggerating.

  22. Foodycat says:

    These look so good! I am a huge fan of zucchini fritters, but I’ve never tried to make polpettine from them!

  23. vianney says:

    These look great! so true with exciting recipes on hand food choices are easier! thanks for another great recipe!

  24. What an awesome idea- zucchini meatballs- absolutely love this! Looks amazing, Joanne!

    Tammy <3

  25. SallyBR says:

    These look fantastic! Such a great twist on “meatballs” – I am on a meatball kick lately, did it with pork, turkey + veal, turkey + spinach, but a full-veggie approach is ultra-cool

    thanks for the inspiration!

  26. Laura says:

    Zucchini with Indian spices-never thought of this before! I have to try these yummy meatballs.

  27. I love Madhur Jaffrey! And combining Italian and Indian food sounds like the perfect way to please my stomach and my mother at the same time. Props to you. This looks delicious!

  28. Miriam says:

    Man, that looks awesome!!! Excellent advice too :), Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

  29. I need this immediately. Which is bad, because making sauce is a long process in my apartment (I use carrots instead of tomatoes because I’m horribly allergic to tomatoes. Carrots can take a while to cook.) It just looks so delightful, more like a zucchini falafel than a meatball. I love that you can make this and resist the overwhelming (for me, anyway) urge to add parmesan or any other cheeses. If your kryptonite is Reese’s, mine is cheese, and the only way to reign in temptation at the refrigerator level is not to have the good stuff in there in the first place.

  30. Joanne!!! I could eat up that whole bowl. This meal has Krissy written all over it. Mmmmm

  31. you make veggie dishes look so scrumptious… i look at veggies differently now haha…(which i really didn’t care about before)

  32. Eliana says:

    Now this is what I call a bowl of comforting goodness. Looks incredible Joanne.

  33. I was never a fan of meatballs but these zucchini based ones are something else! Looks like a delicious meal.

  34. Cara says:

    So I was scanning this recipe, looking for some crazy amount of breadcrumbs that must be required to hold the zucchini meatballs together, and was incredibly happy to see chickpea flour instead! you know that makes these just my style 🙂 I want them, like, now!

  35. I love zucchini fritters so I know I’d love zucchini ‘meatballs’ too! I can’t buy peanut butter cups or my husband would eat the whole bag. No will power at all.

  36. You are such a clever cook, Joanne. 🙂 I love these creative things you come up with. This is brilliant!! And the colors of the balls are splendid. 🙂

  37. Mary says:

    Zucchini meatballs? I am LOVING that idea. I’m going to try it when my garden overflows with zucchinis later this year. Thanks!

  38. Debbie says:

    This looks really good and healthy too. I love the flavors. Going to keep this one and try it although I can’t guarantee my husband or son will try this. That’s ok though because then that’s just more for me!

  39. OohLookBel says:

    I just love this recipe! Sort of like spinach gnocchi but with lovely zucchini instead. Fab!

  40. Zucchini-chickpea meatballs, oh my! This looks so delicious – Italian-Indian, come to me! 🙂

  41. Amy says:

    What a creative recipe! I’m all for moderation. I could never give up great treats forever!

  42. Wow, what a fun recipe! I would have never thought to make zucchini into little meatballs, but now that I’ve seen it done, I’m thinking, why the hell didn’t I think of that before? They look so delicious and I am definitely marking this recipe to make very very soon. Thanks for the awesome idea.

  43. Honestly, this recipe looks super weird… but also delicious at the same time! Can’t wait to try it out – it looks really fun 🙂

  44. Chaya says:

    With our cutting back on meat, these zucchini “meat” balls is a wonderful idea. You gave it lots of flavor which sells it here. Thanks, Joanne.

  45. MM says:

    I’ve had beef meatballs w/ shredded zucchini in them, but never just zucchini. Sounds like a great meatless meal idea to me! Funny that you mention a bag of pb cups…someone brought one to work today.

  46. The zucchini meatballs sound so good with all of the spices that you added. On top of that, the dish is so pretty. Can’t wait to try your recipe.

  47. Hannah says:

    Those look AWESOME. Like everything I wanted in those seitan meatballs but didn’t quite get. And goodness knows I can mow through zucchini like no one’s business. Sounds perfect all the way around!

  48. Reeni says:

    I need those zucchini meatballs in my life! They rock! And what lies underneath sounds just as good! Ah, the orange wrappers. . . I know them very well.

  49. Catherine says:

    Dear Joanne, These zucchini meatballs sound great. I also am a fan of polenta. I love this meal!! Blessings, Catherine xo

  50. Megan says:

    I would love those zucchini meatballs!! (I fall victim to pb cups too)

  51. Allison says:

    Your kitchen must just smell delicious. I love all of the spices and veggies you blend. Yum. And a life with now pb cups would just suck.

  52. Pam says:

    I have had a frustrating & stressful day and I really, really, REALLY needed your humor… thanks for making me smile. Now can you send me some of that amazing sounding banana bread? Please?

    Also, how is it possible that you make meatballs out of zucchini look so amazing? You are a rock star my friend.

  53. I’m so glad I just found your blog. I love your writing style and this is such a creative recipe. I would never have thought of making “meat”balls out of zucchini! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  54. At least you balance the sweets with a healthy savory. Meatless meatballs sans fake meat is quite cool. This is a good idea!

  55. It’s crazy sometimes I’m about to post something and there it is on your site! Crazy. Get out of my head. These look fabulous! I LOVE INDIAN FLAVORS. I also crave them most of the time. I look forward to trying this out.

  56. sophia says:

    I eat a peanut butter cup almost every morning. I’m not kidding, I keep a big bag in my freezer and munch on them as breakfast. And by the way, I’m Asian so I have no pretty eyelashes to bat when a cop pulls me over. So that’s my excuse. :-p

    Love your zucchiniballs. 🙂
    I’m going to be NYC in March, btw. We. Better. Meet. Up.

  57. That Girl says:

    I’m not even kidding – I already have tomato curry on the menu for next week.

  58. Can you do me a favor and cross your fingers in hopes that my garden will gets tons of zucchini this year? Because if it does, I will be eating these “meatballs” about once a week, if not more. They look amazing!

  59. daphne says:

    Oh yes! I’m trying to make the right choices and it is getting tougher!! But a day at a time.. and with this dish, I would have this anyway than peanut butter cup!

  60. This sounds fantastic! I love zucchini and I’m always trying to find new ways to incorporate it into recipes. Thanks for sharing.

  61. YUM! These look so hearty and wonderful! I would make them…if my local Shaw’s wasn’t OUT of zucchini. (How can you be out of zucchini??!!) I never want to shop there again.

  62. Joanna says:

    Hmmm, I made a similar type of thing for my kiddo as finger food 🙂 NOw to start adding all of those spices a bit at a time! He’d better be a foodie baby!

  63. Oh, amazing! Zucchini and eggplants meatballs are my favorites!

    Camila Faria

  64. Raina says:

    Wow Joanne! You sure know how to do healthy right. This dish sounds delicious. You are so right about the PB cups, not a good idea to eat the whole bag but okay to eat one, or maybe two, or maybe three. I have to admit I would have hard time eating one:)

  65. Kristen says:

    I LOVE zucchini “meatballs!” I have never heard of them until now, but I just know that I LOVE them!! What a cool idea.

  66. Alisa says:

    Wow, out of control creative recipe Joanne. Veggie meet the falafel in meatball form!

  67. I make zucchini pancakes in the summertime, but this seems like the ideal recipe for winter. Love it!

  68. Nicole says:

    Zucchini “meatballs!” They look so good.

    You’re completely right about adding exotic, exciting healthy recipes to the meal plan. It makes me look forward to cooking and eating every day without feeling guilty or weighed down by heavy, creamy foods.

  69. awtchy1 says:

    I made this tonight because I was so inspired by your post and it came out absolutely amazing!! This is the second recipe of yours that I’ve made and I can’t say thank you enough for your inspired, healthy and fun posts!

  70. Katie says:

    This dish looks just gorgeous. You’ve taken some ingredients I use quite often and recreated them in ways I’m really excited about. I cannot wait to make this. I also am tempted to go to my freezer and unwrap those peanut butter cups I have saved there, but I, too, will show restraint.

  71. Looks fantastic! You really come up with such delicious and different ideas, I love it. Not sure I could stop at one piece of chocolate though.

  72. Deborah says:

    These meatballs sound so unique and delicious! I’d be happy filling up on this so that I’m only hungry enough to eat one of those peanut butter cups.

  73. I love meatballs mixed with veggies (I used very often just carrots), must give this a try! They look so yummy!

  74. What a cool recipe! I definitely want to give this one a shot. And good for you, girl. I know that exact moment and those exact thoughts. You have the BEST attitude!

  75. Michele says:

    Polenta is something I really must try. Those zucchini meatballs look delish. I can almost SEE the flavor. Mmmm!

  76. Sanjeeta kk says: Zucchini meatball is a must try for me..healthy and yum!

  77. sally says:

    I love this vegetarian take on meatballs, and I love even more that you served them over polenta!

  78. Carolyn Jung says:

    Zucchini meatballs — a genius idea! I bet they are super moist. And the color is just so inviting.

  79. Shannon says:

    love the message here joanne!! so true, and such a struggle. i’ve been failing at that choice lately and i’m not sure why, had been doing so well. i think i need some focus for this year. the lack of goals is getting to me. anyways, i’m totally intrigued by the zucchini meatballs–they look awesome 🙂

  80. Chris says:

    This rocks, reminds me of nudi ravioli. And on top of a creamy bed of polenta? YUM!

    I don’t like sweets as I have often said, but even I have a hard time resisting the sensual call of peanut butter cups. They aren’t like cops at all. No, they are like some sultry ex-lover making a booty call at your weakest moment!

  81. Lori says:

    I love that – train like there is no finish line. I also love this variation on meatballs. Great for that shredded zucchini I have in the freezer.

  82. Jeanette says:

    Love these meatless meatballs with an Indian twist to the tomato sauce. I am a big fan of Indian flavors!

  83. Wow, this is something I would have never thought of but can’t wait to try!

  84. Kevin says:

    Now this is how to enjoy some zucchini balls!

  85. This looks amazing! Going to make it for Stud’s parents farewell dinner tomorrow night. Do you think it would still work ok using plain flour and skim milk?

  86. I have that book but have not paid attention to the meatballs. They look incredible–what a great dish.;-)

  87. Anonymous says:

    I tried this recipe but the meatballs were really bitter. I can’t get chickpea flour so I used normal flour – could this be why? Disappointing as they looked great and I’d like to try them again.

    • Joanne says:

      Hi Anonymous! I’m so sorry the meatballs didn’t turn out! I know that regular flour can be a bit bitter if it’s gone bad…maybe that was the problem? I can’t say for sure since I only made them with the chickpea flour, but I can’t imagine which of the other ingredients would be bitter. You can make your own chickpea four by grinding chickpeas if you have a spice or coffee grinder. Also, I know Whole Foods or even Italian specialty stores have it, along with Indian or Middle eastern stores…maybe you have one in your area?

  88. Epicurea says:

    i know this is an old post but i just wanted to let you know that i made the zucchini balls as the main dish of a vegetarian dinner party and they were a big hit, everybody just loved them. great recipe!

  89. Made it, loved it. Thank, Joanne. 🙂

  90. krystabell says:

    didn’t have some of these ingredients, so I am substituting a lot, like cilantro for parsley. this is going to be sooooooo good!!! thanks a ton!!

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