I never bothered to make meatballs from scratch until the past two years or so. I really hate touching raw meat, because I’m a spoiled, squeamish, city girl, and the process seemed tedious to me.
My friend and former roommate Erin started cooking a lot roughly 3 years ago and she made some amazing meatballs that inspired me. Then Tim and I signed up for a weekly meal kit, and a lot of the recipes were for various kinds of meatballs. I realized how easy they are to make, and how delicious and versatile they are.
This recipe for meatballs is quick and simple and can be used in many different dishes. I used half of this batch for meatball subs (recipe to come soon) and the other half will be used to make sweet and spicy Asian meatball bowls (recipe to come soon too).
They could also be used in soups, with pasta and tomato or veggie sauce, Mediterranean bowls or sandwiches, Swedish style with egg noodles and a brown gravy, or just with some teriyaki sauce and rice. That’s why I call them “wildcard.” Use your imagination. Make a batch, throw them in the freezer and you have a blank canvas for a meal.
Start with 1 medium-size zucchini. Grate it by hand with a cheese grater or mandolin, or do what I did and pulse it in your blender until it’s like zucchini confetti.
Use your clean hands or cheesecloth and squeeze the excess water out of your zucchini confetti. I lost a little bit of the zucchini down the drain while I was squeezing. Oops.
In a large mixing bowl scramble one egg.
Next, add your squeezed zucchini confetti and 1 lb. ground beef/pork mix. Traditionally, meatballs are made with some veal or lamb. I am morally opposed to veal, so I don’t buy it, and I don’t like lamb. Use whatever meat you like though, all beef, turkey, lamb… Try not to have a fat content over 20% though.
Add 1/2 c. breadcrumbs (I used panko, work with whatever you’ve got), 1/4 c. freshly grated parmesan, 1 Tbsp. dried parsley, 1/2 tsp. onion powder, 1/2-1 tsp. minced garlic based on your taste, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper.
Mix everything together. You can use your hands, but as I said, I don’t like touching raw meat, so I used 2 spatulas.
Once you have everything mixed up, form meatballs about 1″-2″ in diameter, and line them up on a baking tray lined with foil.
I got 18 meatballs out of this, but if you made them a little smaller you could easily get 20-24. This recipe can easily be doubled as well.
Bake at 375° F for 12-18 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 160° F.
I got so excited to eat that I forgot to take a picture of just the meatballs when I was done, but here is one of the sub before I finished making it.
The zucchini helps the meatballs to remain moist unlike a lot of meatballs that I’ve had, and the flavor from the caramelization on the bottom is super delicious. Yum.