Sunday, January 12, 2014

Kale & Feta Meatballs

Are you like me and avoid making meatballs because you think making a meatball dinner is wayyy too much effort and dish clean-up? First, make the meat mixture, then roll the balls, then fry the balls, then maybe bake the balls, then put the balls into a tomato sauce to simmer. That's a lot of ball preparation.


But I'm here to tell you that these meatballs are seemingly easy. I made them on New Year's Day for my sweet family and yes, I had a little time to tinker in the kitchen that evening, but I didn't feel like this meal was a big preparation for the yumminess that it procured. This meatball recipe is fabulous for so many reasons! 1. They are baked, which saves on calories (not fried) 2. One less pan to scrub because I line my baking sheet with parchment - just a quick rinse usually does the clean-up job 3. They are mini meatballs so the bake time is really quick.

I almost want to call this a weeknight meal, and it could be, if you mixed up the meat mixture in the morning and formed the balls, storing them in the fridge for suppertime (or even frozen from a weekend cooking expedition - gasp). When you come home at night all you would have to do is preheat the oven, bake the meatballs, boil pasta and simmer the sauce. You'd have dinner on the table in under 30 minutes.

And this is how you make  bread crumbs out of bread scraps. Always save the butts and odd pieces of bread in your freezer. Just remember where you stash the bag (read: my freezer is a black hole). When you need bread crumbs pull a handful of pieces out, whiz them in the food processor until they  become the consistency you desire. I desired a coarse consistency. See? Coarse bread.

Grab some ingredients. This is my three year old's favorite part of helping mammy.
Mix it all up. Be gentle. Like holding a brand new baby. Use your brand new baby gentle hands.
Use a tablespoon measure to scoop out the same amount every time. Then form them in your gentle baby hands to make uniform balls. Place them on an extra large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Then you'll bake them for 15 minutes in a 375ºF oven. And soon you'll have dinner. But not yet. But, soon.
While the meatballs are baking you'll want to get some tomato sauce simmering. I used the tomato sauce I had made this summer. Which I think is why this pasta dish was out of this world amazing! So, if you didn't happen to char some tomatoes over the grill this summer and throw them into the freezer make sure to pick a good quality tomato sauce. One with only a couple ingredients and not much sugar. You can do it. You're smart.



Printable Recipe Here

Kale & Feta Meatballs

1/2 cup stale bread scraps
1/2 milk
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. ground pork
1/2 cup kale, blanched & chopped
1/4 cup feta, crumbled
1 egg
1 teaspoon each granulated garlic & onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
10 cracks black pepper
16 ounces tomato sauce

Preheat oven to 375ºF. 

Pulse bread scraps in a food processor until coarsely ground. Move crumbs to a small bowl and pour milk over, letting sit for 10 minutes, until softened. 

In a large mixing bowl, combine ground beef and pork, chopped kale, crumbled feta, egg, and seasonings. Squeeze milk out of bread crumbs and add moist crumbs to meat mixture. Discard milk. Thoroughly, but gently, mix ingredients together using your hands. Once combined, use a tablespoon measure and roll into small balls. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet about 1" apart. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, until cooked through in the center. 

Meanwhile, pour tomato sauce into a large skillet and bring up to simmering over moderate heat. When meatballs are finished cooking, remove from oven and place into simmering tomato sauce to bathe for a minute. Serve over bucatini or other similar pasta.

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