Truth be told, I never really was a big fan of meatballs or meatloaf, but both my Ecogirls have been requesting pasta lately. I told them there HAS to be some kind of protein with all those carbs, and they agreed. Hence, meatballs.
After 16 months of autoimmune protocol diet (for me that’s basically meat, veggies, and broth, with just a little bit of fruit here and there), I am testing the waters of my skin reactions and eating a wider variety of foods.
I’m also trying to be sensitive to the needs and desires of my family members, who aren’t so willing to join me on this dietary journey of mine, so grains are back in some forms.
Ok, pause for dream sequence …
I have to chuckle when I think back to one point in the middle of the grain-free journey, when Ecodaddy wrote on the grocery list: Tortillas, extra extra gluten
I get it honey. I get it.
As Ecodaddy has further pointed out to me quite frequently, it’s hard being a kid who doesn’t even get rice, much less bread. Or cake. Or cupcakes. Or anything like that.
So, the grains have returned, and the troops are happier.
But I’m personally not quite ready to jump right back on the grain train. When I do experiment, it still doesn’t include gluten, which I’m supposed to avoid for low functioning thyroid. Plus, Big Sis Ecogirl has some impulse control issues and aggressiveness that seem to appear out of nowhere when she eats certain foods, gluten among them. Just better to leave it out it seems.
I first did a Google search looking for a grain-free meatball recipe because, I mean, if there’s a good one out there, then hey, why not? But I quickly learned from many sources that it is the breadcrumbs, and specifically the soaked breadcrumbs that give meatballs their lighter, fluffier texture. If you omit the crumbs, you run the risk of having hard overcooked knobs of meat floating in your sauce, and who wants that?
Several months ago, thrifty as always, I had cut the crusts off a few loaves of gluten-free bread I had used for sunbutter-and-jelly sandwiches for a school function. I left the crusts out for a few days til dry, then pulsed in food processor til crumbs. Voila: no cost gluten-free breadcrumbs!
After my extensive meatball recipe research online, i merged the best of a few of them and created my own version, replacing with gluten-free breadcrumbs. It was super delish! Even my meatball-hating babysitter, who stayed for dinner last night, cleaned her plate!
And now, the next morning, after having finished the leftover sauce and meatballs with my breakfast, there isn’t even a smear or a smudge left to photograph for you. You’ll have to trust me on this one, and I’ll be sure to snap a shot next time I make it.
1 pound ground pork (mine also had ground organs, but that is TOTALLY optional LOL)
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 cup gf breadcrumbs
Enough milk to moisten breadcrumbs
8 minced garlic cloves
1 minced shallot (or half a small onion)
2 Tbsp + 4 Tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp sea salt
a few peppermill grinds of black pepper
a jar of tomato sauce (or your own homemade if so inspired)
a glug of olive oil
a large pinch of sea salt
package of your pasta of choice (I used gluten-free rice and quinoa pasta from Trader Joe’s)
2 Tbsp butter
Grated Parmesan cheese
Add milk to breadcrumbs and set aside to moisten.
Heat a pan on the stove and add 2 Tbsp oil. When hot, add garlic and shallot and saute for a few minutes til golden and fragrant. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, combine ground pork, ground beef, soaked breadcrumbs, cooked garlic/shallot mixture, egg, and seasonings til thoroughly combined. Mush it with your hands and try not to be grossed out LOL. You might even like it! Shape into small round meatballs and set aside.
Pour tomato sauce into a pot and put over medium low heat to simmer.
Fill a large pot 1/2-2/3 with water and put over high heat to boil. Add a glug of olive oil and a large pinch of sea salt
Heat a large pan on the stove (if you used a big one for garlic and shallots before, can be same one) and add 4 Tbsp oil. Brown meatballs on all sides and cook through.
Add meatballs to pot of sauce and let simmer 15-45 minutes.
Add dry pasta to now boiling water in large pot (I used Trader Joe’s Organic Rice and Quinoa Spaghetti). Cook til al dente according to package directions, then strain over sink. If using gluten-free pasta, spray with cold water to cool down the pasta, preventing overcooking and stickiness. If wheat pasta, DO NOT RINSE! You want that starchy water clinging to the pasta! Trust me: I’m Italian. Fuggedaboudit.
Replace pasta pot over medium heat and add 2 Tbsp butter. When butter is melted, add pasta back into the pot, sprinkle with sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste, and stir coat evenly with butter.
Serve in individual bowls topped with meatballs/sauce mixture, then sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese.