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.
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.