Thai {inspired} Chicken Meatballs with Spicy Peanut/Cashew Zoodles

Ohhh friends—today is a great day! My alarm went off at 5:45 this morning, and I was not feeling it. I rolled out of bed, though, put Howie in my warm spot, and pulled on some workout clothes. An hour later I had crushed my ab workout, which was nice. Even better, though, is when I was getting ready for work, I tried on a dress that was too small for me last month…and it fits. And it’s awesome 🙂

If you’ve been reading along for a bit, you know that this year is my ‘Year of Wellness’ and I just finished a Whole30 last month, designed to get me back on track. Well, things are happening my friends- the more I honor my health commitments, the more happy returns I’m experiencing. I was in a size 8 at Banana this weekend, for heavens sake! It’s a good feeling.

Zoodles and meatballs2Anyway. So I’m not strictly adhering to a Whole30 diet for now (there’s a cake coming up later in the week that confirms this) but I’m still pretty addicted to how much better I feel when I’m eating pretty clean. To that end, I’m really motivated to adjust a lot of the meals and flavor profiles I love to fit in with my new preferences. Thai food is some of my favorite, so I’m excited to share Thai {inspired} Chicken Meatballs with Spicy Peanut/Cashew Zoodles.

When I tried Plated last summer, one of the recipes they sent was for Thai chicken burgers, and they were so full of flavor!! I modified that recipe a bit and changed them into meatballs. Another dish I adore is spicy peanut noodles, and most of the flavor in that recipe is in the sauce, not the pasta. To update that, I traded cards for veggie noodles, and made a version of spicy peanut sauce that could accommodate cashew butter instead, with enough other flavor that you don’t notice the soy is missing.

zoodles and meatballs3Together, these meatballs and veggie noodles pack a ton of flavor and still maintain a pretty clean profile! They’re also really simple- both dishes come together in about 30 minutes, making them a perfect weeknight meal. For more options, you could also omit the zoodles and pass the sauce on the side, to make a perfect healthy appetizer for any party. Or reshape them into patties, use a lettuce wrap instead of a bun, and the peanut sauce instead of ketchup or mustard. Anyway you shape them, though, these are a delicious addition to your Whole30 recipe collection.

Thai {inspired} Chicken Meatballs with Spicy Peanut/Cashew Zoodles

For the meatballs

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • handful cilantro
  • 3 green onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 inch piece of ginger
  • 1 tsp hoisin sauce (omit if Whole30)
  • 1 ½ tsp sriracha or chili garlic sauce (or more, depending on your flavor preferences!)
  • ½ lime
  • salt

For the zoodles

  • 2 tablespoons nut butter (most people do peanut butter, but I use cashew
  • 1 ½ tsp sriracha or chili garlic sauce (or more, depending!)
  • ½ lime
  • Salt
  • 1 medium or 2 small zucchini
  • ½ bell pepper
  • 1 cup carrots (I use the shredded kind, but you could zoodle those, too!)

Ingredient prep: chop cilantro so you have about ¼ cup; place half in a bowl for meatballs, and reserve half. Finely slice the green onions, and put half in the meatball bowl and half with the reserved cilantro (that will be used for garnish at the end). Grate or finely mince the ginger; add half to the meatball bowl, and half to a small bowl for the dressing.Grate or finely mince the garlic, and add all of that to the meatball bowl. While you’re prepping, shred the carrots and the zucchini (I LOVE this zyliss julienne peeler) and finely slice the pepper- you want these veggies to all be about the same size.

Meatballs: In a bowl with the cilantro, onions, garlic and ginger, add the chicken, hoisin, sriracha, a generous pinch of salt, and juice of ½ lime. Use your hands to incorporate everything really well, then give the mixture a few minutes to ‘settle’. Chicken mixtures can start off a little loose, and giving them a minute to rest allows to proteins to reorganize so they feel more substantial and keep their shape better. In the meantime, preheat a flat skillet over medium heat, and add some oil. Shape the chicken mixture into walnut sized meat balls—I like to make chicken a little smaller than I would beef, because I really, really, want to make sure it cooks through. Also, I used a medium cookie scoop and got about 16 meatballs, for reference. Move the meatballs around so they brown on all sides (about ten minutes), then cover and cook for another ten minutes, stirring occasionally. At this point, if you think they’re done, cut one in half to check. If they’re all done, remove from the pan. Otherwise, keep going for another few minutes until they’re not pink at all (or, until they come up to temp on your handy meat thermometer).

Dressing: start with the ginger you set aside, and add the nut butter, sriracha, juice of ½ lime, and generous pinch of salt, and whisk together with a fork. Taste test, and adjust with more sriracha or salt as needed. Note: this mixture may look thicker than normal dressing- that’s okay! The veggies will give off some liquid, so it will all work out.

Zoodles: You can definitely use the same pan that you did for the meatballs- no need to even wipe it out, since we’re working with similar flavors! Heat to medium high (nice and hot) and add the carrots and red peppers. Move those around the pan for about two minutes, then add the zucchini. Salt the veggies lightly, and cook for only another minute or two- you want the zucchini to lose its raw-ness, but retain its texture. When the zucchini is just slightly wilted, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the dressing. Toss to coat, then plate it up with the meatballs, and the reserved cilantro and green onions on top.

  • Kathy

    been meaning to let you know, we make this recipe all the time, and it is so so good!