Who doesn’t love meatballs? I’ve tried a variety of meatball recipes in the past but was inspired to make this (I’d like to think “interesting”) one after I had discovered some rapini in the “bottomless pit” in the fridge! It hadn’t grown any fur on it so it was okay to eat! (Please refer to the Blog post to fully understand my rationale!)
The rapini adds a bitter bite to the meatballs but also blends well with all the flavours. My son gobbled these up (but then again, he loves rapini…yes, it’s true!). However, if you have a picky eater (who won’t go near these with a ten-foot pole) try steaming the rapini, puréeing it, then adding to the meat. (It should be concealed well enough that your child won’t notice the difference!).
Initially, I had prepared these for my son and I (having already assumed that my husband wouldn’t have gone near them with a ten-foot pole seeing that rapini is on his list of “stinky veggies”). When my husband asked what I was making for dinner I offered him one (without intentionally trying to trick him) and strangely enough, he didn’t even ask what the green stuff was. What’s even stranger…he ate it (NOT against his will) and actually liked it!
And so, dinner was served!
(Yields about 25 meatballs)
450g lean, ground veal (or protein of choice)
1/2 cup pre-steamed rapini, finely chopped
2 plain, gluten-free rice cakes (or 1/2 cup of regular breadcrumbs)
1 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
1/4 cup grated parmesan (doesn’t have to be exact amount!)
1 tsp. each dried cumin and thyme
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 whole egg
*If your child is under one year old substitute the egg with 1 egg yolk + 1 tbsp. ground flax seed.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, mix flax seed with 3 tbsp. of water warm and let sit for about 3 minutes until thickened. It should have the same consistency as an egg white.
Blend rice cakes in a small food processor until finely ground then place all ingredients in a large bowl.
Mix (with your hands is best) until well combined. Try not to over-mix, otherwise the meat will become very tough when cooked.
*TIP: To make sure the burgers are well-seasoned, I always fry a bite-size piece in a frying pan (and taste!) before cooking the entire batch.
Cook the meatballs for about 20-25 minutes. (If you make these into burgers, you may need to cook them for an additional 5 minutes or so.)
*TIP: To check the doneness of the meatballs, I like to use the “finger test.” It would take an entire post to explain how to do it, so instead I searched for a detailed explanation.
Ideally, you should use a broiler pan so all the grizzle and fat can drip off onto the pan. Unfortunately, I do not own one so I place the meatballs on paper towels immediately after removing from the oven to absorb the excess oil.
Serve alone or with your favourite condiment.
You might want to double the batch because these go fast! ;-)
Store leftovers in plastic containers and/or zip-lock bags and store in the freezer.
“DID YOU KNOW…?”
Veal is an excellent source of zinc which plays an important role in helping the body fight infections and is essential for growth and development.
If you want to know more about veal production in Ontario check out the site: http://www.ontarioveal.on.ca/main.html