Veal Broccoli Rabe Mini Meatballs

[Total: 16    Average: 4.7/5]
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It’s safe to say that every Italian nonna has her own secret for making perfect, juicy meatballs. My nonna always soaked day-old bread in milk and used her special blend of fresh herbs and spices. Sometimes she would combine different types of meat, usually beef, pork, and veal. Whatever the secret was to her recipe, nonna’s meatballs always had that oh-so-perfect texture and delicious flavour!

These delicious and healthy veal broccoli rabe mini meatballs would make any nonna proud! While most nonna’s are not too concerned about the nutritional facts of traditional meatballs, I instead, have upped the health ante by substituting one egg with a vegan-friendly flax egg and added fresh herbs and a healthy dose of vitamin K, C and A rich broccoli rabe.


Since my son is still in his picky toddler phase and is very reluctant to try, let alone eat any green foods, I wasn’t sure if these would be appreciated. Having said that, my son is a fan of fresh herbs and so I stretched the truth just a bit and told him the green bits were herbs. This little white ‘for your own good’ lie convinced him enough to give these veal broccoli rabe meatballs a try…and to my surprise, he loved them!


If you’re not a nonna, meatballs can be difficult and dauting to make. For some reason, it’s not as easy as it seems to get that perfect texture, the ideal combination of herbs and spices, and not to mention the correct cooking time.


Most meatball-making newbies will most likey over or under-season their meatballs. My remedy for this is simple; once the meatball mixture is prepared, simply take 1 teaspoon of the mixture and fry it in a small pan then taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed. This trick ensures that you won’t end up with an entire batch of poorly seasoned meatballs!


Serve these delicious veal broccoli rabe mini meatballs warm as is or smothered in sweet homemade tomato or bolognese sauce. 


Veal Broccoli Rabe Mini Meatballs written by Lisa Codina average rating 4.7/5 - 16 user ratings
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Cook time
Total time


Yields: 20-24
450g lean, ground veal (or protein of choice)
1/2 cup pre-steamed broccoli rabe, finely chopped
2 plain, gluten-free rice cakes (or 1/2 cup of regular breadcrumbs)
1-2 tbs. fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 tsp. each dried cumin and thyme
1 flax egg + 1 large organic egg
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix the flax seed with 3 tbs. of water warm and let sit for 5-7 minutes until thickened. It should have the same consistency as an egg white.


Blend the rice cakes in a small food processor until finely ground then add to a large mixing bowl with the remaining ingredients.


Mix the meatball mixture gently with your hands until just combined. The light touch of your hands incorporates all of the ingredients without crushing the meat. Do not over-mix the meat as this will result in dry, dense meatballs, as opposed to airy and fluffy!


Roll about 2 tbs. of the mixture into a ball and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cook the meatballs for 20-25 minutes (turning once halfway through the cooking process) or until lightly golden and slightly crispy.


When preparing these, a double broiler would be ideal to prevent the meatballs from absorbing all the excess oil. However, in case you do not have one, I find that removing the meatballs from the baking sheet and placing them on a large plate lined with paper towels does the trick quite effectively.


Veal Broccoli Rabe Mini Meatballs written by Lisa Codina average rating 4.7/5 - 16 user ratings
  • Amanda

    These look really good. I haven’t tried broccoli rabe, but I’ve heard things about it. As long as it’s similar to actual broccoli, I’m sure I’d love it. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Lisa @Bitesforbabies

      I love broccoli rabe! It’s so much more flavourful than broccoli and has a little bite to it.

  • Liz

    What a great recipe! I will try this for my baby. She is just starting to eat solids, so this recipe is just perfect!

    • Lisa @Bitesforbabies

      It’s a perfect little finger food for babies!

  • Joanne T Ferguson

    I love veal and what a great recipe! I love the combination of the ingredients! What a great entertaining dish this would be! I wish I could come through the computer and try some of these meatballs right now!

    • Lisa @Bitesforbabies

      Thanks! It would be great as a party appetizer, served with some marinara sauce!

  • Lisa B

    This looks so delicious. My Daughters favorite meal is meatballs. I will have to try this recipe this weekend.

    • Lisa @Bitesforbabies

      If she loves meatballs then I think she will love these!

  • michele d

    I’m not a nonna but my father taught me how to make my grandmother’s meatballs. So good. My kids love em!

    • Lisa @Bitesforbabies

      Nice! Luck you…did she have a secret trick?

  • CourtneyLynne Storms

    Omg these meatballs sounds amazing! This is one thing I don’t really have a recipe for so I might have to steal yours one night for dinner lol

    • Lisa @Bitesforbabies

      Great! They’re really easy to make!

  • John Lopez

    Looks simply delicious recipe.. my daughter loves meatballs, Im gonna try to cook this today, thanks.

  • Bree

    These sound super amazing. And They don’t seem that difficult to make either. These sound super amazing.

    • Lisa @Bitesforbabies

      Thanks, and no they’re not!

  • Krystal

    I haven’t had veal in so long. I actually am not entirely sure I know how to cook it. This is a great recipe!

  • HilLesha O’Nan

    I don’t eat meat. However, that looks like a delicious recipe, nonetheless!

    • Lisa @Bitesforbabies

      Thanks….I’m not a meat eater but my husband is! My son has just started eating meat again (spordaically) but now my daughter isn’t keen on it! They will eat meatballs if they’re smothered in sauce though, lol!

  • Ourfamilyworld

    That looks so delicious. I am actually of making meatballs tonight. I will try your recipe.

  • chubskulit

    Love this! I will definitely have to give this a try, they looks delicious and such a cool idea to infuse broccoli in a meatball.

    • Lisa @Bitesforbabies

      It’s a great way to incorporate some greens into your diet….I like to leave bigger chunks to add texture however, if you have a really picky eater you could even puree the broccoli rabe.

  • mail4rosey

    Ha! I’m glad he loved the meatballs. I white lie too w/the food. My youngest thinks his Kale/mango/applesauce is tasty. If he knew Kale was in it, he’d freak. ;)

    • Lisa @Bitesforbabies

      I used to hide it from kids but now I tell them what’s in their smoothies…and they don’t seem to care! I mainly think it’s because they can’t actually see the pieces of veggies!


    These look perfect. I’m not very good at making meatballs but always try. I love this recipe.

    • Lisa @Bitesforbabies

      I hope some of the tricks I suggested make it easier for you to make them!

  • Chrystal M.

    YUM! I would make this and then not tell my husband or kiddo what was in it. I bet they will love it. I am good at hiding things.

  • Coach Donna

    These look yummy and sound great – you’re right, I could not get the right consistency for meatballs so stopped making them and I always under-seasoned them – so loving this recipe :)

    • Lisa @Bitesforbabies

      Thanks! The trick of frying a small portion before cooking all of it really works!

  • paula schuck

    These look delicious and I love the idea of adding broccoli rabe to them. Those little white lies about hidden veggies are absolutely okay!

    • Lisa @Bitesforbabies

      I agree…I even have to tell them to my husband sometimes ;-)

  • Lisa Bristol

    This looks like such a delicious recipe. I will have to try making this on the weekend. I am sure my kids will love it. Meatballs is my daughters favorite.

    • Lisa @Bitesforbabies

      Don’t all kids love meatballs?! ;-)

  • Life as a Convert

    These look delicious. I love the addition of vegetables into them.

    • Lisa @Bitesforbabies

      Thanks! They add flavour…and vitamins and nutrients!

  • Sids Mom

    They look awesome. Can these be freezed like Ikea meetballs and reheated before serving?