I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving! I enjoyed catching up with my family in Houston and soaking up some warmer weather.
In case you are all turkey-ied out and sick of pie, I have a light meatball recipe that is good for any time of the year. It’s loaded with veggies, free of grains and low in carbs for those of you who are on overload at the moment 🙂
These flavor-packed Chicken Florentine Meatballs were inspired by Kudos Kitchen by Renee since I was assigned her blog for Secret Recipe Club this month 🙂 Not only is Renee super crafty in the kitchen, but she also paints glassware and tiles…she is all-around creative! After searching through all her yummy creations, I was set on her florentine meatballs. She referred to the bacon undertones of the dish though the actual recipe is sans-bacon, I was immediately intrigued and couldn’t wait to see for myself!
It has been a while since I had made homemade meatballs, and these spinach-filled, egg-free meatballs are full of flavor and were easy to make gluten free. I substituted the breadcrumbs for almond flour + Italian seasoning, cayenne pepper and a bit of sea salt for added flavor. I also used extra fine chopped spinach, making these balls quite green (hehe), reduced the amount of nutmeg and subbed onion powder for the raw onion.
As for the sauce, I used olive oil to keep the recipe dairy-free, reduced the salt as well as the pine nuts (they are pricey little guys!). I wound up boiling the sauce for a good 3 minutes to help evaporate the alcohol in the sauce and I opted to toast the pinenuts separately and use them as a garnish to maintain their texture. Overall, a very delicious dish and I could also detect a slight bacon undertone as well at times! I think adding crispy bacon or pancetta to the sauce would be a delicious (and indulgent) addition but it’s definitely not necessary in the least!
Florentine Meatballs (lightly adapted from Kudos Kitchen by Renee)
4-6 servings – 24 meatballs (egg-free, grain-free, dairy-free)
For the meatballs:
1 lb lean ground chicken or turkey (storebought or homemade)*
1 package frozen spinach, thawed and completely squeezed out of all the water (I used extra fine)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 -1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1 tsp pink Himalayan sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 cups almond flour (or almond meal)**
1 Tbsp + 1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp sea salt
2-3 shakes cayenne pepper, optional
For the mushroom-tomato sauce:
1 Tbsp olive oil or Earth Balance (could use butter or ghee but wouldn’t be dairy free)
1/3 cup pine nuts
8 oz baby bella or button mushrooms, sliced
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 can BPA free diced fire roasted tomatoes, undrained
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup red wine
sea salt to taste
1. Mix together the first 8 ingredients (meat through pepper) and place in the fridge at least an hour for all the flavors to meld. In a small bowl, whisk almond flour through pepper and set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. *After browning you’ll be placing the meatballs in the oven to cook all the way through*.
3. Using a tablespoon or a melon baller, shape the meat mixture into golf ball size balls and roll into almond flour mixture.
4. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and brown 12 meatballs (important not to overcrowd the skillet) on all sides.
5. Using a slotted spoon, remove the browned meatballs and place onto lined baking sheet and continue with the additional meatballs.
6. Bake meatballs for 18-20 minutes until cooked through and prepare the sauce.
7. In the same skillet you browned the meatballs, toast pine nuts over medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until golden, stirring continuously to avoid burning (no need to add oil). Remove from skillet and set aside (will be added as a topping).
3. Add olive oil and heat, then add mushrooms and cook for 3-4 minutes until softened and lightly browned. Season with black pepper.
4 Add the fire roasted tomatoes, garlic and wine, bring to a boil and let cook for 3 minutes.
5. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue cooking over medium heat until the sauce reduces and becomes slightly thicker (approximately 10 minutes). Season with salt and pepper to taste if desired.
6. Serve meatballs with sauce and toasted pine nuts, enjoy!
*I would recommend using lean and not extra lean as these meatballs might dry out.
**If you prefer to use 1 1/2 to 2 cups gluten free bread crumbs in lieu of the almond flour mixture, please feel free 🙂