Comfort food done right! These are the perfect paleo meatballs.
Tender, light, and bursting with flavor.
I know it’s a bold statement to make, but these are the BEST Italian-style meatballs I’ve ever eaten. And (here’s what I love about them) there are no fillers, no eggs, no breadcrumbs. Simple seasonings, fresh herbs, and a little veggie power make these beef meatballs tender, light, and bursting with flavor.
I took my favorite method for adding veggies to meatballs from my Chicken Zucchini Popper recipe and gave the recipe an Italian spin. I used grass-fed beef and added plenty of fresh basil, garlic, and seasonings to re-create my favorite meatballs in marinara. The end result was light (not dense at all!), and so flavorful. I was blown away by the amazing texture and flavor.
Another plus is that they’re allergy free, so there’s no gluten, dairy, soy, egg, nuts, etc. to worry about if you’re having company over or taking a meal to a friend. I love them plain with a side salad, but there are loads of ways to enjoy them. Depending on your dietary needs, you could serve these over spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles, or pasta, or tuck them into a bun for meatball subs.
NOTES ON THE RECIPE
1. Tools of the trade. If you’re using a food processor (which I recommend) this will be SO easy. You can use the grating attachment for the zucchini (which you can grate in seconds), and then switch to the metal S-blade to pulse together the ingredients a bit.
Also, by pulsing the veggie mixture a bit before stirring it into the beef, you’ll get a finer texture and the meatballs will be even more tender and juicy.
Also, cookie scoop makes getting perfectly-sized meatballs a cinch. I don’t love handling raw meat and this minimizes the amount of time I have to get my hands in the mix.
2. Freeze it! This is a dynamite freezer meal. You can put it into an 8×8″ pan or a 9×13″ pan (I prefer the larger pan), cover it with foil, and freeze uncooked. When you’re ready to cook, you’ll want to add an additional 15-20 minutes to the cook time.
Likewise, if you have leftovers and want to freeze them, it works like a charm.
3. Substitutions. If you’d like to substitute ground chicken or turkey in place of the beef, it will work just fine! I don’t personally care for ground turkey, but I love these with chicken, too. Also, if you’re not paleo or doing Whole30, I have no doubt these would be amazing sprinkled with mozzarella or parmesan.
4. Don’t skip the most important step! Be sure to squeeze some of the liquid out of your zucchini in paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. This will give your meatballs the very best texture.
Like this recipe? You might also like:
- Chicken Zucchini Poppers
- Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce – Back to Her Roots
- Noodles with Tomato Basil Olive Sauce
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 green onion, sliced
- 1.5-2 cups grated zucchini (excess water squeezed out)
- 3-4 Tbsp minced fresh basil
- 2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 2-3 cups of your favorite marinara sauce
- Fit the processor with your metal S-blade. Place green onion, grated zucchini, basil, and garlic in the bowl of the processor and pulse to break up a bit. Add ground beef, salt, and pepper, and pulse to combine. Try not to over process, but to get the ingredients combined.
- Place sliced green onion, grated zucchini, minced basil, and minced garlic on a cutting board. Mince with your knife further, until the veggie mixture is very fine. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add ground beef, salt, and pepper and stir with your hands or a fork until the veggie mixture is well distributed.
- Scoop mixture and roll into meatballs. (I got 20 meatballs out of my mixture). Place in a baking dish (I use a 9x13" pan) and pour sauce over meatballs to coat. Shake the pan a bit to distribute the sauce.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through.