Saturday, March 9, 2013

Greek Meatballs


What a fast week...with a snow day Tuesday, dinner in the burbs with family on Thursday, and a professional development conference in the city on Friday, I barely had any time with my students or, less importantly, the vegetables in my fridge.  To top it off, this weekend Garrett and I are in Detroit for a wedding, so we needed to make quick use of the foodstuffs lying around.

So here's a recipe for a few typical situations:
  1. You have hearty vegetables that need to get used up.
  2. You or your significant other don't like vegetables all that much.
  3. You want to stretch that buck you spent on meat in your diet by adding some healthy filler. 
  4. You want to minimize your portion size when eating meat.
All of the above situations applied in my case, except #2.  Any time I make burgers, meatballs, or meatloaf, I throw whatever vegetables I can into a food processor that won't dramatically change the texture or flavor.  In this case, I managed to sneak in two whole zucchini, probably getting another entire serving from the recipe (yes, lunch is made) and making the meal a lot less heavy.  

The wheatberry salad in itself is a delicious and hearty meal if you want to skip the meat part all together. 
Meatball Ingredients (makes 8-10 large meatballs):
  • 1 lb. extra lean ground beef (I usually go 96% lean or more, if possible)
  • 2 zucchini, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped 
  • 2 oz. farmers cheese, crumbled (you could also use feta)
  • 1/4 cup scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 egg (I didn't add egg to my mix, and got away with it, but it was challenging to keep the meatballs together)
Wheatberry Arugula Salad:
  • 1 cup weatberries, cooked and drained
  • 4 cups/1 package arugula
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, halved
  • 2 tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/8 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste 
Tzatziki Dressing
  • 1/2 cup fat free greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp. dill
  • 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Boil 2 cups of water for the wheatberries.  Heat a frying pan on the stove top to medium-high with a little olive oil.

Mix all the ingredients for the meatballs and portion them out in whatever size you want.  Since I wanted to keep mine juicy by finishing them in the oven, I made my meatballs large, with about a 3" diameter.  Don't forget to add those wheatberries to the boiling water.
Sear off the meatballs in the pan, turning regularly until browned on all sides.  Transfer to an aluminum-lined baking pan and finish in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through.
Drain and cool your wheatberries.  When almost completely cooled, add the parmesan cheese and stir.  Chop the tomato and kalamata olives, and add along with the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper when the wheatberries are completely cooled.  Toss in the arugula.
Serve the meatballs warm on top of the arugula salad, with a dollop of tzatziki.

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