Gemelli with Zucchini Meatballs and Avocado Chimichurri

Recipe by: Dr. Michael Greger & Robin Robertson from The How Not to Diet Cookbook
Don't let this recipe's length intimidate you. It's as simple to make as it is delicious. I like to make the meatballs and sauce ahead of time so their flavors develop even more. When I'm not in the mood for chimichurri sauce, I substitute my favorite salt-free marinara.
4.1 from 52 votes
Course Main Course
Difficulty Moderate
Servings 4
Daily Dozen



  • 1 (15-ounce) BPA-free can or Tetra Pak salt-free chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and blotted dry
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 3 tablespoons ground flaxseeds
  • 1 tablespoon ground chia seeds
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon white miso paste
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini, squeezed dry


  • 2 ripe Hass avocados, peeled and pitted
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon white miso paste
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley


  • 8 ounces whole-grain or bean-based gemelli or other pasta of choice



  • Combine the chickpeas, garlic, oats, nutritional yeast, flaxseeds, and chia seeds in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the lemon juice, miso paste, basil, oregano, onion powder, and black pepper. Pulse until thoroughly mixed. Transfer to a large bowl and add the shredded zucchini. Stir together until well combined. The mixture should hold together when pinched between two fingers. If the mixture is too wet, add a little nutritional yeast or ground flaxseeds to absorb excess moisture.
  • Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking pan with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
  • Scoop about 2 tablespoons of the zucchini mixture at a time and use your hands to roll the mixture into balls. Arrange the zucchini balls on the pre­pared baking pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until firm and lightly browned.


  • In a food proces­sor, combine all the chimichurri sauce ingredients plus ¼ cup of water and pulse to combine. Set aside.


  • Cook the pasta according to package instructions in a pot of boiling water until al dente. Drain and return to the pot. Add the chi­michurri sauce and toss gently to combine. Divide the pasta into shallow serving bowls and top each portion with 2 or 3 zucchini meatballs.
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