Italian Meatballs

It seems like there’s a never-ending number of ways to prepare a meatball. They can be made to fit any cuisine as well as meat-preference. For instance, these Italian style meatballs are made with grass-fed ground beef but you could use pork or a combination of the two or even a higher grade of ground grass-fed beef such as ground sirloin. They are also packed full of fresh herbs and aromatics but can easily be adapted to be made more quickly with dried herbs and spices.

Besides eating them, of course, perhaps my favorite thing about meatballs is that they can be made ahead and in bulk and then frozen for future meals. They don’t even have to be thawed completely before going into the oven!

These Italian meatballs can be served with a red sauce over spaghetti squash noodles if you’re avoiding pastas. They can even be served with sauce and just a cheesy side like our Cheesy Spaghetti Squash Casserole or some steamed broccoli.

Often you will find an egg or bread crumbs or some other kind of binder in a meatball recipe. I find that the fattier kinds of meat such as ground beef or pork do not need these ingredients as they hold together nicely on their own. If you find your meatballs are losing shape or are too soft try putting the mixture in the fridge until the meat is very cold and then form the balls and bake immediately. Or, throw in that egg and mix thoroughly. That should do it.  To speed up the rolling process, try this method:

As usual you will want to source quality meat for optimal nutrition. A healthy animal equals healthy fats and cleaner, more nutritious meat. Check your local health food grocer (don’t forget the freezer section) for hormone and antibiotic-free ground meats. Other great things to look for are “GMO-free”, “Organic” and “Grass-fed or Pastured.”

To order quality pastured meats contact any of these farms to put in an order:

Paidom Meats (for beef or pork)

Holy Cow Beef (for beef)

Lisemby Farms for pork (if you’re in or around Lubbock)

You can certainly leave out the Parmesan cheese for dairy-free and they are still delicious. Below is my simple Italian style meatball recipe. I think you’ll like them…happy rolling!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound grass-fed ground beef, ground pork or Italian sausage or a combo
  • Half of a large yellow or white onion, small diced OR ½ tsp onion powder
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced OR ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1/3 C fresh basil, chopped OR 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/3 C fresh oregano, chopped OR 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/3 C grated parmesan cheese, optional
Fanci-fy it:
  • Add a 1/3 C green or red bell pepper, small diced
  • Add some fresh sage and/or parsley as well!

instructions

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place your thawed ground meat in a large mixing bowl. You’ll want room to mix the meatballs up once you’ve added all the ingredients.
  3. Dice or mince all your fresh herbs and aromatics (onion and garlic). If you’re using dried herbs and spices you can skip this part!
  4. Add all ingredients to the bowl with the meat and mix with a large fork or spatula or just use your hands! You want all your ingredients evenly distributed throughout the meat.
  5. Using an ice cream scoop with a lever for releasing the ball, scoop out golf-ball size portions of meat and form into balls. There are different size lever scoops and you can buy them almost anywhere. If you don’t have one, don’t sweat it! just use your hands. You want the meat packed/rolled pretty tightly so the balls don’t fall apart in the oven.
  6. Place each ball onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Parchment paper isn’t required. It just helps a bit with clean up later. You can use a glass casserole dish too, if you like.
  7. Remember, if you’re meatballs are too warm or soft and won’t hold their shape try putting them into the fridge (or even the freezer!) for 30 minutes or more to firm up before baking.
  8. Place sheet of meatballs into the hot oven and bake for about 20 minutes. If they are very cold or frozen in the middle when you put them in this part could take a little longer. If you’re not sure your meatballs are done just press one gently with a fork to see whether it still seems squishy or cut one down the middle and look for pink meat. If they need more time check them every 3 – 5 minutes or so until they’re done.
  9. Enjoy!

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