Ground meat is on my weekly grocery list – usually beef, turkey, or lamb. (I don’t often buy ground chicken because I roast a whole chicken each week.) Ground meat is a great fridge staple for so many reasons: it’s inexpensive, quick to prepare, and easy for little ones to eat. I’m sure I’ll be sharing lots of ways to use this versatile ingredient as we are always coming up with ideas to keep it interesting. Today I want to share with you my version of a classic: meatballs in tomato sauce. It’s easy and fast, and I have a few tips to make this one pot meal special.
Aside from a pinch of salt and a glug of olive oil, this tomato sauce relies on only three ingredients – tomatoes, onions, and bay leaves – yet packs a punchy flavor. First, I cook the onions a little longer than typically called for. The few extra minutes of sautéing takes them past translucent to just slightly caramelized and amps up the sweetness of the sauce without added sugars. Second, I double up on the bay leaves to increase the richness for just pennies, and add them at the beginning of the process, with the onions, to make sure as much of their savoriness is extracted as possible. For the the tomatoes, you can use the kind that come already crushed, but I find it quite satisfying to squeeze whole tomatoes with my hands. As you’ll see in the recipe below, I like to mix the ground meat with my hands as well – they are my favorite kitchen tools!
While the tomato sauce recipe is a good one to use in almost any application, it gets an additional boost in this dish. As the meatballs braise in the sauce, they render out some fat that makes the sauce even more mouthwatering. In fact, my mouth is watering just thinking about it…
Lamb Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
For the tomato sauce:
1 medium onion, diced
pinch of salt
2 bay leaves
1 28-oz can tomatoes
For the meatballs:
1 lb ground lamb
1/4 c almond flour or almond meal (or bread crumbs with a splash of milk)
handful finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 big pinches of salt
1. Coat the bottom a large pan (I used a Dutch oven) with olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, pinch of salt, and bay leaves and cook until just beginning to brown on the edges, then add the tomatoes and stir. If using whole tomatoes, crush them with your hands as they go in, or use a wooden spoon to break them up as they cook.
2. While the tomato sauce begins to reduce, mix the meatball ingredients together in a medium bowl and stir with a wooden spoon (or if you don’t mind, just use your hands!) until about evenly mixed. Form the meat mixture into balls – I make mine a bit smaller than golf balls.
3. Nestle the meatballs in the tomato sauce, reduce heat to medium-low, and cover. Cook about 30 minutes, flipping the meatballs at about the halfway point. You can check for doneness by cutting into one of the meatballs to see if it is cooked all the way through. Remove the bay leaves before serving.
Serve over pasta or polenta, or keep it grain-free and serve alongside steamed or roasted veggies.
grapefruit / 4669 posts
Yummm, this sounds delicious!
persimmon / 1436 posts
Yummmm! And I’m so excited that this is a GF recipe! Thank you for sharing!
blogger / pomegranate / 3201 posts
This is making me hungry!
pomelo / 5321 posts
This looks delicious!
nectarine / 2770 posts
I’m always looking for great ways to use lamb – looks delish!
pomegranate / 3716 posts
I suddenly have a craving for meatballs… thanks!!
blogger / wonderful cherry / 21616 posts
Yum! We just made Asian sesame meatballs yesterday
In the last picture, what are the meatballs/sauce served with?
cherry / 158 posts
@Mrs. Pen: Mmm Asian sesame meatballs sound delicious! We served the lamb meatballs over creamy polenta.
blogger / pear / 1964 posts
We just bought a 1/4 cow and my freezer is holding about 80 lbs of ground beef — this is so on the menu for next week!
blogger / wonderful cherry / 21628 posts
Yum! I love making meatballs.