In this second installment of my “Keeping Ms. HalfEmpty Full” series, I present you with an easy recipe loosely based on my Italian grandmother’s meatballs, as further clarified by my “meatballer” little sister. This version has an improved nutritional profile for today’s carnivorous HalfEmpty wife. Buon Apetito!
From the kitchen café of Mr. HalfFull
Cook time: 30-45 min (ovens vary, ensure meatballs are brown)
- 1.25 lbs extra lean (95% or more) fresh Ground Sirloin – this is usually the smallest package found at grocery stores
- 6 slices of soft 100% Whole Wheat Bread, grated into bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup of Parmesan Cheese
- 1/4 cup Skim Milk – just enough to keep mixture moist
- 2 Eggs, beaten
- 1 cup chopped Parsley (fresh) — since fresh parsley comes in bushels, chop it all and freeze extra for later
- Garlic (fresh minced or powder, to taste)
- Sea Salt & fresh ground Pepper (to taste)
- Oregano & Basil (dried, to taste)
- Crushed Red Pepper – if you like to kick things up a bit
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl until mixture is consistent (not dry)
- Hand roll meatballs gently to avoid packing them too densely
- Place meatballs on rack in a pan and bake until brown
Ms. HalfEmpty loves these meatballs because in addition to tasting delizioso, they allow her to control her protein portions. When this Italian soul food is paired with a small portion of fresh whole wheat pasta and leafy greens tossed in a vinaigrette, she easily gets her proper ratio of vegetables, carbohydrates, and protein.
I enjoy the almost Zen-like ritual of creating a batch of meatballs on a leisurely Sunday with football on TV in the background. [Aside from Ms. HalfEmpty: cooking made Mr. HalfFull somewhat useful on football Sundays. I don't know if NFL Sundays will continue this fall, but I know he'll still make meatballs and I may not be a football widow...win/win!]
Once baked, I can put a few in a small pot of “basic tomato gravy” (a possible future ”Keeping Ms. HalfEmpty Full” recipe) to simmer all day, and then freeze the remainder. A great meatball (even the lean ones) should be tender and moist with absorbed tomato sauce, ensuring a light texture that doesn’t crumble when sliced with a fork.
One of my favorite ways to utilize leftovers is to fill a panini with thinly sliced meatballs, provolone cheese, sun-dried tomato pesto, and arugula. Likewise, if you have pizza dough on hand, lean meatball slices are a perfect topping!
Finally, it’s important to consider Lemony Snicket‘s words of wisdom: ”Miracles are like meatballs, because nobody can exactly agree on what they are made of, where they come from, or how often they should appear.”