Sometimes I gently fry them in canola oil, sometimes I bake them. It doesn’t really matter taste-wise as I always drop them into a bubbling pot of tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, a pork chop or other piece of meat or chicken, a good dose of garlic, oregano, basil, salt and pepper, and a bay leaf or two. In other words, spaghetti sauce. Its yumminess blends with that of the meatballs, keeping them moist and flavorful even with you don’t have the added fat of frying.
This recipe for spinach meatballs intrigues me. I’m sure I don’t have to go on about the nutritious punch you get from spinach. You also get a good dose of omega-3 fatty acids with this recipe because it features grass-fed beef, an important choice when you’re interested in clean eating for healthy weight loss to take you to your natural, healthy weight.
It brings to mind, however, a recent op-ed piece I read on the “myth of sustainable meat.” There are no simple answers. (Update: See Joel Salatin’s response, in which he refutes many of the claims in the op-ed. Salatin is a sustainable farmer mentioned in it. Thanks to Kristen for the heads up.)
Of course, you can use regular beef, but the nutritionist in me encourages otherwise. She also encourages you to enjoy!
Baked Spinach Meatballs
(Makes 4 servings)
- 1 lb. grass fed ground beef 85% lean
- 2 c. packed of raw spinach, chopped
- 1 small onion, minced
- 1 c. fresh bread crumbs
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and grease it with a little bit of oil, so the balls don’t stick.
Place the meat in a medium bowl. In a food processor add the onion and pulse until minced, then add to the meat. Place the spinach in the same food processor (no need to clean out) and pulse until chopped, add to the meat bowl. Add the salt, spices and bread crumbs. Mix thoroughly with your hands, fully integrating all the ingredients without over mixing the meat.
Form into 1 inch size balls and line on the baking sheet. (This is when I would start boiling the water for the pasta.) Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven and flip balls. Return to oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Enjoy on a sub with mozzarella, on a salad or atop whole wheat spaghetti with the best ever tomato sauce.
If you’re gluten-sensitive, rice pasta is a great alternative to regular pasta. I like the Tinkyada brand. Also, Against the Grain, a Vermont company, makes a great gluten-free baguette you can use for a sub sandwich. I also like to use gluten-free oats instead of bread crumbs to make meatballs. I soak them in a bit of milk first to soften and add moisture; you can use soy or almond milk or even a broth if you are sensitive to dairy.
Spinach meatball photo and recipe reprinted with permission from www.thetalkingkitchen.com and www.healthyaperture.com.