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The Best Meatballs Ever!

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I love meatballs, it’s something I will do just about anything for…well, almost. My husband makes these for us about once a month for dinner. My son will do anything for them too. Sometimes he’ll go into the kitchen and do a crazy little dance to get them made faster. Of course, this doesn’t really make them get done faster, but it entertains us while we’re cooking.

We adapted this recipe from several other recipes – one of which is a turkey meatball recipe from First Meals by Annabel Karmel. But the real inspiration for this meal comes from the most amazing meatballs we’ve ever eaten from a fantastic local Italian restaurant here in Boise called Gino’s.

Gino’s used to be in downtown Boise, just about a mile and a half from our house. We used to ride our bikes down there occasionally for a special dinner. Now their restaurant is in a neighboring city called Meridian, so we go even less often. But I love that we can have a taste of Gino’s, right in our own home, from scratch.

Their food is so incredibly delicious and authentic. The owner is from Italy, and he uses recipes from his own family. The food is not Americanized Italian, which we appreciate.  I would put the food more in a Northern Italian cuisine category. Oh sure, they have pastas and starches, but I am always most impressed by Italian dining establishments which can make good use of flavor and spices without grains and pasta. This dish certainly fits that in that realm.

And I hate to say it, because Gino’s food is so amazing…but I think these meatballs are even better.

So In honor of our favorite Italian restaurant, we present our version of meatballs with tangy red peppers and other savory ingredients. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

Savory sauce

1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil or palm oil
2 shallots, finely chopped (optional)
1 1/2 red peppers, seeded and chopped
2 teaspoons tomato paste – we use Eden Organic canned – no BPA
3 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
2 cups of homemade vegetable stock

Meatballs

a pound of ground beef – ours is grass-fed
1 medium onion, chopped finely
1 small apple, peeled and grated up
3 teaspoons of bread crumbs (we use Ezekiel bread)
1 egg, lightly mixed (we use pasture-raised eggs)
2 tablespoons of fresh thyme or sage, chopped
1 teaspoon oregano (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
sprouted flour for coating
olive oil or palm oil for frying meatballs

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat oil in a pan (we use stainless steel). Add in red peppers and/or shallots. Sautee. Add remaining ingredients and season to taste. Allow to boil and then turn down to simmer for approximately 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Mix together ingredients for the meatballs. With your hands, form into balls into desired size. The original recipe called for meatballs just a bit smaller than a golf ball, but we like ours bigger. Just remember if you make them bigger to allow for a longer cooking time. Use the flour to cover meatballs lightly – spread out on a plate or in a bowl and coat. Now heat the oil in your pan and add your meatballs. Sautee until golden brown.
  4. Use a casserole dish – either ceramic or glass, or a dutch oven if desired. Pour finished pepper sauce over meatballs. Cook in oven for 20 – 30 minutes. Cook less time for smaller meatballs, longer for larger balls. If desired, add shredded cheese of your choice during the last five minutes or so of cooking – parmesan,pecorino, or asiago are all delicious. Meatballs should cook until well browned.

You can serve these with vegetables and/or a salad (which is how we normally eat ours). We don’t eat a lot of grains, but you could also eat them with sprouted grain pasta or brown rice. You can make these ahead of time too, and freeze them or just eat them the next day for a fantastic lunch.

This recipe is part of Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesdays Carnival. Please visit her site and check out all the other real food posts there.