People in my classes are always asking for ideas of things to make for the freezer – things they can quickly grab out for dinner without cooking from scratch. This is one of my most popular recipes and is a new look at an old staple – meatballs. Adding fresh, citrus flavors and chilli heat to ground pork or beef makes these meatballs light and extra delicious.
When I was pregnant with my first son I went into a meatball making frenzy. I still make meatballs for my family and for friends who have just had a baby. I freeze them, raw, on baking sheets. Then once they are frozen, pop them into a bag and deliver them to the sleep deprived friend (or sleep deprived me).
Older children can be gainfully employed rolling these meatballs. It always encourages them to eat something when they have been involved in its production. Just keep an eye that they don’t eat the raw mixture! If you don’t have children around it is a nice mindless way to pass a few minutes.
I serve the meatballs with this easy tomato sauce mixed with either pasta, quinoa, rice or on a bed of greens. They are also delicious on sandwiches or roasted with veggies.
I recommend making a huge batch of this tomato sauce every month. Freeze it in 2-person portions and it will be ready to be used with pasta, quinoa, rice, couscous, veggies, and beans. It can be used as a base for quick soups, risotto, a sauce for grilled meats and fish and is also great when using up leftover roast meat to make a quick bolognese. It’s my most useful, biggest money- and time-saving freezer staples.
Meatballs – Ingredients
(this quantity makes around 40 meatballs – enough for two meals for 4 people, one meal to eat and one to freeze)
2.5lb (1.2kg) ground (minced) pork, beef, turkey, veal or a combination. Be sure to pick meat that is around 20% fat
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
4 slices wholegrain bread
A glass of red wine
Zest of 2 lemons (I use my Microplane for this)
a quarter teaspoon chili flakes (depending on your taste for heat)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
3 cloves garlic, peeled and grated to a mush with a Microplane
1 bunch (around a handful) basil finely chopped
1 teaspoon each of sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Plus tomato sauce and your choice of pasta, rice, quinoa and vegetables
- Line 2-3 metal cookie sheets with foil (depends on the size of your sheets but you will be making around 40 walnut size balls
- Preheat your oven to 400F 200C
- Put the slices of bread in a bowl and cover with the wine. The bread will turn purple and soak up the wine. Leave for around 5 minutes
- Put the ground meat in a large bowl and add the grated Parmesan, chilli, oregano, lemon zest, garlic, chopped basil, salt and pepper
- Squeeze the bread to remove the excess wine and add the purple bread to the bowl of meat. Keep the leftover wine to add to the sauce
- Use your hands and squeeze everything together so that all the ingredients are well incorporated
- Pinch a small part of the mixture and quickly fry it in a small frying pan for a couple of minutes to taste for seasoning. Adjust herbs, zest, salt and pepper if needed. Make a note of how you adjusted the seasoning, that way you can change the quantities of the recipe above next time you make it to better fit your taste
- Take pinches of the mixture and roll into walnut size balls then put them on the baking sheet, evenly spaced, but not touching
- At this stage you can either roll all the mixture into balls and freeze them for another day, or roll your mixture into a couple of sausage shapes and freeze them wrapped in parchment so that you can roll them into balls when they are defrosted. You can also cook all the meatballs and freeze the ‘keep ones’ in the marinara sauce.
- Place your meatballs in the oven and cook until the meatballs are brown (around 20 minutes, or until they are cooked through with no sign of pink inside).
- When they are cooked, drop them into your tomato sauce along with any leftover red wine from soaking your bread and let them bubble in the sauce for around 10 minutes to meld the flavours together before serving. If serving with pasta, stir the cooked pasta into the sauce before serving.
You can now buy the equipment I use in this recipe through my shop. I’ve spent years testing my favourite bits of equipment so rest-assured that whatever I recommend is the best tool for the job and will give you great results without cluttering your kitchen with unused tools. You can also buy my other bits of essential kitchen equipment through this post.
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