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Zucchini Meatballs
Polpette di Zucchini

This recipe appeared with the story Memorable Meatballs.

From The Classic Cuisine of the Italian Jews by Edda Servi Machlin (Giro Press, 1981)

Edda Servi Machlin writes that this dish, like many others in which the vegetables are incorporated into the meatballs, is one of several ingredients that go into an Italian Jewish couscous. “However, like the others, it is so tasty and delightful that it can be served as a main dish, and nobody will miss the couscous.”

Zucchini is often included among the symbolic foods eaten on Rosh Hashanah. The rapidly growing vegetable reinforces the themes of growth, prosperity, and the multiplicity of good deeds we hope to achieve. Also, kra’a (squash) means “torn away” so eating squash embodies our wish that our bad deeds be torn away to make way for our better selves.

1 pound lean ground beef
freshly ground black pepper
1 pound small green zucchini
½ cup unbleached flour
Olive oil
2 eggs, beaten with a pinch of salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon freshly chopped Italian parsley
2 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups cold water

Combine meat with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; mix well. Trim zucchini at both ends and cut into three parts each; then cut each part lengthwise into four sections. Take one of these sections with a bit of ground meat and press the two together forming a small oval ball. Roll it in flour and set aside on a piece of wax paper. Continue to make balls until you have used up zucchini sections and meat.

Heat one cup of olive oil in a large frying pan. Dip floured zucchini balls in the beaten egg and fry in the hot oil until golden on all sides. Remove to paper towel to drain. When all balls are fried, transfer to a large skillet where they can fit, preferably in a single layer. Add garlic and parsley.

Dilute tomato paste with 2 cups of cold water and add to skillet. Simmer for 15 or 20 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons oil, salt and pepper to taste, and cook another couple of minutes to bring the flavors together. Yield: 6 servings.

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