When people hear meatballs, typically what comes to mind is beef meatballs in tomato sauce, over pasta. If you're from other parts of the world, Swedish meatballs in a cream sauce may be their first association.
But as a forager and frugalista, not to mention someone who likes to change things up a lot in the kitchen, I don't generally make the typical meatballs. Sometimes I do, yes, but more often than not I make my meatballs with ground chicken or ground turkey, since I am able to buy it at a fraction of the cost of ground meat where I live.
I'm always looking for new and different ways to use greens in my kitchen, since foraging in my area (and most areas) is predominantly leafy greens of various shapes and sizes, and it gets boring to eat greens the same way ad nauseum.
|Green meatballs in homemade tomato sauce, over homemade gluten free soba noodles|
A few years back, I thought that instead of the bread crumbs or ground vegetables or other fillers people add to meatballs to both stretch them out and make them more moist, since I had such an abundance of greens, why not add them into my meatballs? Ever since doing that, I realized how amazing that combination was. Added bonus- you get foods in funky new colors- bright green meatballs replacing the typical brown. Remember back in the day when Heinz put out ketchup in a variety of colors, including green ketchup? Green meatballs are exciting and different in a similar way to that green ketchup, and I even got my girls, who typically aren't so into greens (wild or not), to really love this dish, so much so that despite the huge amount that I made, there were no leftovers.
These green meatballs taste amazing as is, and can be eaten without any sauce at all, but I made them even better by combining them with a sauce made from creamed greens, and served over oven baked spiralized sweet potato "noodles" for myself and over rice for the kids. Simply amazing. The best part- this meal was not only frugal and delicious, it was paleo, egg free, dairy free, healthy, making my body feel great.
I've included the recipes for both the green meatballs, which can be served with whatever sauce you like, and the creamed greens, which can be served both with or without meatballs (either green ones or standard meatballs), and over whatever you like, whether grains, pasta, potatoes, etc...
I couldn't recommend these recipes more highly.
I used a combination of nettles and chickweed for my meatballs, and wild swiss chard/wild beet greens for my creamed sauce, but the greens you use are up to you. You can use any non bitter greens for the meatballs, foraged or store bought, such as kale, spinach, mallow, milk thistle, hollyhocks, etc... For the sauce, you can use any greens you'd like, even bitter ones- just make sure to de-bitter them first if using bitter ones (chop and either soak them in boiling water or bring to a boil for a few minutes, depending on their bitterness).
|My wild swiss chard. Like regular chard, only smaller. And free,|
Just a note: depending on preference, you can either blend up your onion in the food processor or not. However, if you do blend them instead of mincing them well, they will make your meatballs more watery and therefore harder to shape into perfect circles, and they will need to be boiled, not baked. Though this recipe does call for boiling the meatballs, if you just use chopped onions instead of minced, and you see the meatball mixture is firm enough to shape into balls, feel free to bake them instead.
Green Meatballs RecipeGreen Meatball Ingredients:
2 lbs ground chicken or turkey
2 cups packed non bitter greens, foraged or purchased, such as nettles, chickweed, milk thistle, swiss chard, kale, etc....
1 large onion
1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 plus 1/3 cup ground flax seeds or ground chia seeds
1/2 cup tapioca or potato starch
1. Process your greens in a food processor until completely pureed. If using pureed onion, puree together. If not pureeing your onion, you may find you need to add a drop of water to your greens to get them to puree better.
2. Mix the rest of your ingredients together. If you don't need your recipe to be paleo/grain free, you can replace 1/3 cup flax seeds and the 1/2 cup starch with as much bread crumbs as needed so your meatball mixture isn't too runny- I'd start with 1/2 cup and add more as needed.
3. If making meatballs in tomato sauce, prepare your tomato sauce and bring it to a simmer. If boiling in water, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Shape your meatballs into small balls and drop them one at a time into the hot liquid. When I made these, they were quite sticky- I found that keeping my hands very wet before shaping them, or greasing them with oil, helped prevent the meatball mixture from sticking too my hands too much. Re-wet or grease them periodically once you see the mixture beginning to stick again. Alternatively, if using a non wet mixture (more breadcrumbs, or not blending the onion), shape into balls and bake on a lined, greased baking sheet at 350 degrees.
4. When boiling the meatballs, first they will settle at the bottom of the pot and then rise up to the top. From when they all rise up, time 5 minutes, and let them simmer. After 5 minutes, cut open one of the meatballs and check to see if the inside is solid. If it is, it is ready and you can eat them now. If baking, when they look completely solid from the outside, cut in half and check for doneness. This should be anywhere between 20 and 30 minutes.
5. If boiling in salted water, strain before serving. This water is now delicious and can be used as the basis for a wonderful soup. I combined mine with fried onions, a little sweet potatoes, foraged salsify roots and greens, and has a sure winner.
6. These meatballs can be prepared in advance and frozen for another date. They can be eaten as is, or in a sauce of your choice.
Dairy Free Creamed Greens RecipeIngredients:
4 cups chopped fresh greens, such as swiss chard (I used wild), spinach, kale, milk thistle, wild mustard, sow thistle, etc...
1 large onion
2 tablespoons oil of choice
3 cup non dairy or dairy milk of choice- I used cashew milk (made by blending approx 1/3 cups cashews soaked with water, and adding enough water to thin it out to make 3 cups total) but any will do, depending on preference
1 1/2 tablespoons tapioca or potato starch
1 teaspoon salt (or more, to taste)
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1. Debitter your greens if needed. Set aside.
2. Slice or mince your onion, depending on preference.
3. Saute in oil until golden.
4. Chop your greens very finely. Add to the onions.
5. Saute until the greens are all wilted.
6. Add 2 cups of your milk, salt, nutmeg, and garlic powder. Bring to a simmer.
7. Mix your starch with your reserved cup of milk, until uniform. Pour into the pan, mixing well, and heat until thickened.
Do you ever add anything interesting into your meatballs? Would you consider adding greens into yours, or does green meatballs seem too weird for you?
Ever make creamed greens? How do you make them?
What is your favorite type of sauce for meatballs?