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Gluten-Free Main Dishes Paleo

TGIMF (Thank Goodness It’s Meatball Friday)

Okay, so maybe meatball Friday doesn’t actually exist. I just wanted an excuse for a fun pun.

I feel like whenever I don’t know what to make, meatballs are my total savoir and go-to. I’m pretty sure that I’ve made them just about every which way possible. I’ve made Asian meatballs, Italian meatballs, gluten-free meatballs, and even a similar Persian meatball called kofteh not too long ago. Looking back on that recipe, I wanted to change things up a bit. And that’s where the inspiration for today’s recipe came.

My original kofteh post contained lots of zereshk, which is Farsi for barberries (they’re the equivalence of an ancient cranberry). But with all the cold weather we’ve been having that seriously needs to get lost I thought it would be nice to use plums, carrots, walnuts, and cinnamon for some winter flavors.

These meatballs are also paleo, egg-free and gluten-free! I’ve noticed that when I add other vegetables and fresh herbs, the meatballs become much moister. You’ll find in this recipe that the meatballs are still tender without fillers like bread crumbs and eggs 🙂

I’ve written about this previously, but what’s great about foods like meatballs and kofteh is that you can really take these dishes in so many different directions. I don’t think I’ve ever made meatballs the exact same way every time. To me, meatballs are a fantastic blank canvas for your creativity to shine! So don’t be afraid of trying different spice mixtures, herbs, and other ingredients. Here are some fun tips for trying different techniques and ingredients in your meatballs!

kofteh 2 retouched

  1. Try different spice combinations. You can easily go from Italian to Middle Eastern or South Asian by swapping the Italian seasoning mix and using turmeric.
  2. Cinnamon and mint go surprisingly well with beef.
  3. Try different ground meats that are still relatively low in fat. Ground turkey, ground chicken, and even ground pork are all good choices. Just make sure they are lean cuts (it should say so on the package). If there is a ton of fat after you’ve cooked the meatballs, drain the pan before adding other sauces and ingredients.
  4. Have a small bowl of luke warm water next to you while you’re rolling the meatballs. This keeps meat from sticking to your hands, especially when you’re working with lower fat cuts of meat. Periodically dip your hands in the water to wash off excess fat.
  5. Meatballs freeze exceptionally well. Simply mix the meat, roll into balls, and cook. Then once they’ve cooled off to about room temperature, put them in plastic bags or containers. You can easily add sauce or other seasonings.
  6. Did I forget to mention meatballs cook exceptionally well in your crock pot or slow cooker?! Even if you followed tip #5 and froze your meatballs, throw them in with your favorite sauce for a simple and healthy dinner.

What are some of your favorite ways to make meatballs?! Comment below and let me know 🙂


Print Recipe
Paleo, Gluten-Free, Turkey and Beef Meatballs with Grated Carrots, Walnuts, and Dried Plums
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
large meatballs
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
large meatballs
  1. Mix all ingredients together except for tomato paste, water, walnuts and dried plums. Mix until very well combined.
  2. Form rather large meatballs that are about the size of the palm of your hand. Before finishing rolling each meatball, insert one plum and one walnut half into the center of each meatball. In other words, one plum and one walnut half should be stuffed inside each meatball.
  3. Cook on medium-low heat in a large, deep pot. Cover with water as needed so meatballs don't stick to pan. Add tomato paste and an additional pinch of saffron if desired.
  4. Cook until meatballs are no longer pink and tender. I've noticed over the years that it won't take much time to fully cook the meatballs. However, if you want them tender and soft, you should let them simmer for at least one hour so that the flavors of the different ingredients combine.
  5. Serve with your favorite sides. This would include but not be limited to: sweet potatoes, yams, rice, and even bread for those of you who can tolerate gluten.
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