Today I channeled my inner scientist with a food experiment, complete with a blind taste test. While the data sources were limited (James’ tastebuds), the results were clear, the secret ingredient worked!
The Big Reveal: Cauliflower mash
Pre-Whole 30, my go-to recipe contained ricotta and breadcrumbs. I had some leftover cauliflower mash and it made me wonder if the creaminess of the mash could help lighten and moisten the meatballs. It did!
I’m not saying I’d make the mash just to put it in the meatballs, but it’s a great way to utilize the leftovers.
I paired my meatballs with a sauté of kale, asparagus and walnuts – both explained below.
What you’ll need for the meatballs:
- 1 lb ground beef
- leftover cauliflower mash (if you don’t do this, no worries, just go on without it)
- Tomato sauce jar (I like arrabbiata – ensure Whole30 compliant)
- 1/4 of a large red onion, chopped finely (optional, could use dried minced onion or onion powder)
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced (optional, could use garlic powder)
- 2 eggs
- crushed red pepper (optional, if you like heat)
- Preheat oven to 400F and tinfoil/lightly spray a large baking sheet
- Chop/press your onion and garlic into a pan with a little olive oil and cook until soft, just a few minutes, and transfer to a glass mixing bowl.
- Then, ground beef goes in in the bowl, 3/4 cup of tomato sauce, 2 eggs, two heaping spoonfuls of cauliflower mash and your spices – a light sprinkle of crushed red pepper and salt, and a heavy shake of oregano, to your liking.
- If you’re skipping the fresh onion/garlic, just add the flavored spices here
- Using a spoon, but probably your hands too, mix all the ingredients together so they are all blended (especially the eggs) into one big gushy mixture. I was worried mine was too wet, but it worked out just fine.
- Now, you ball. I like smaller balls, like if you make a circle with your thumb and index finger size.
- After 20 minutes in the oven, I take them out and remove the run-off from the pan. I throw some sauce on top of them so they have a little coating, and throw them back in, 5-10 minutes should do it. Basically just giving them a little more time to set and thicken up the sauce.
- This will make 4 servings, and I like to serve them with a little extra sauce scooped on top.
What you’ll need for the veggie sauté:
- Box of kale
- Bundle of asparagus, ends cut off and chopped into ~1/2 inch segments
- Walnuts to your liking, I did about 3 handfuls, roughly chopped
Veggie sauté instructions:
- Once your asparagus is chopped, throw some oil into the pan (if you’re doing the combo from above, I used the same that had onion and garlic in it to pick up a little flavor).
- Once hot, put the asparagus in first and give it a few minutes, covered, while you roughly chop the walnuts, then throw those in and keep covered.
- After a few minutes (the asparagus’ green should brighten), I throw in the kale, ripping it up as it goes in. Mix around with a spatula, ensuring the walnuts don’t stick to the pan. Cover it so the kale starts to shrink.
- After a couple minutes, if the veggies are looking to be a bright green, give them a taste and make sure they taste cooked enough to your liking.
I cooked the veggies while the meatballs were in the oven. Fast, easy, and these veggies don’t make much of a mess. Whole 30 says to go easy on the walnuts, so just don’t over do it.
Any secret ingredients that you use to make your meatballs light and moist? How about ways to adapt your favorite ingredients to keep them Whole 30?