Thursday, March 13, 2014

Easy Garden Meatballs

Since I was a vegetarian for such a long time, preparing meat is still an adventure for me. When I eat meat now I make it a point to eat quality meat (grass fed, pasture raised, wild, whatever applies). I choose to do this because it is healthier for me, the animals, and the environment. All this naturally comes with a higher price tag, so I've come up with ways to stretch our weekly meat eating. I usually buy cheaper cuts of meat and then fill them out with veggies. Grass fed ground beef runs us about $6 dollars a pound from the farmer. Though I love making burgers, they do get boring and are not the most efficient use of meat. 
A few weeks ago my husband asked for meatballs. Of course, how did I forget about meatballs? I haven't made them since I was a kid with my mom but from what I could remember, you just rolled up seasoned balls of meat and baked. I loaded up ours with veggies to make the meat go further and to taste delicious. The carrot and spinach in these makes them sweet and adds nutrition. These are very easy to make and leftovers can be frozen (we never have leftovers but I froze one to test it out). These are also great for baby because they are tender and break apart easily. You'll notice there is a lot of "abouts" in this recipe, it is very forgiving so just tailor it to what you have and your tastes. Enjoy!

Before baking

Garden Meatballs

Gluten Free
Makes ~11 

about 1/2 pound grass-fed ground beef
2 medium carrots (about 1 1/2 cups once blended)
2 large handfuls spinach leaves
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Roughly chop the carrots and add to a food processor; pulse until finely chopped but not quite pureed. Add the spinach and blend until finely chopped. If your food processor is small you may have to take the carrots out first or do it in batches. Place the chopped veggies, herbs and spices, and meat into a bowl and mix well with your hands. Roll into balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. I got 11 large golf ball sized balls. Bake on 350oF for 25 minutes. Serve warm and store in the fridge for a few days or longer sealed in the freezer.

Notes and Substitutions

  • I think you could add any type of veggies you like just be aware of the water content. Something with a   lot of water, like zucchini, may make the balls come apart more easily.
  • I suggest serving these over spaghetti squash with sun-dried tomato marinara, over my creamy noodles, or just over sautéed veggies (pictured)

What are ways you like to stretch meat? (Haha, you know what I mean!)

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