Thursday, December 30, 2010

Greek Turkey Meatballs

Last Monday, my school had our Winter Social Potluck. Each grade level team was assigned to bring something - salads, desserts, chips, etc... The Kindergarten team decided to bring meatballs! Each of the 5 kindergarten rooms brought 1 type of meatball. We had Nantucket Meatballs (with a bbq cranberry sauce), Cranberry Chili meatballs, and Italian meatballs. I wanted to make something a little bit different, so I made Greek Turkey Meatballs.

Traditionally, meatballs have some sort of meat, seasonings, breadcrumbs, and egg. Breadcrumbs, of course, are not Paleo, so I set out to experiment and here's what I came up with:

Paleo Greek Turkey Meatballs

* 3 lbs ground turkey
* 1 cup feta (optional)
* 1 head of garlic
* 1 package of frozen chopped spinach
* 1/2 cup shredded dried coconut
* 2 tbs dried oregano
* 3 eggs

This was a pretty easy recipe  To get everything ready, I minced all of the garlic.  I use organic garlic, so the cloves are sometimes smaller than conventional, so I minced the whole head of it.  I also thawed out and then drained the chopped spinach. Then, you just put all of the ingredients in a large metal or glass mixing bowl and start mixing with your hands.  You could use a spoon, I suppose, but it's not as fun as using your hands to really make sure everything is well mixed. 

You may be asking about the coconut. Who the heck puts coconut in meatballs? Well, I have a confession. I didn't mean to put coconut in it. I had originally mixed all of the ingredients (minus the coconut). However, when everything was mixed, the mixture was a little sticky and wet. Typically, you add breadcrumbs to meatballs to keep them moist when cooking, but it also helps to dry out the meat mixture so it's easier to roll. I know that I'm trying not to eat grains, but I figured that these meatballs were going to be eaten by other teachers who don't know about paleo and don't care about eating grains. Soooo, I threw in a handful of what I thought were panko bread crumbs.

I have these pretty glass storage containers on my counter and I thought one of them was filled with panko bread crumbs. I had given away most of my grains (brown rice, bread crumbs, etc...) but I figured that I had forgotten about the panko. Well, as it turns out, I had put in shredded coconut! I didn't figure that out until I tasted one after they were cooked! I could tell the texture was a bit different, then realized that I hadn't put in panko at all, I had put in coconut. It was a pleasant and paleo surprise! :)

Anyway, back to the cooking process... once everything was mixed well, I spread a little bit of olive oil on a baking sheet.  You want to use one with a lip because as these cook, the meatballs will give up some liquid.  You want to bake them on something that will catch the liquid so it doesn't spill all over the oven and make a big old mess.  

I rolled the meatballs into small, bite sized pieces, perfect for nibbling. You could form this into a meatloaf, or giant meatballs if you wanted, or even into little hamburger patties!  Since these were for sharing, I thought smaller was better. I then placed them on the baking sheet and popped them in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes. 

You could also cook these in a pan with a little bit of olive oil, but when making this crazy amount of meatballs, that would have taken forever, so I decided to bake them.

Sinc they were smaller, they didn't take long to cook.  After 10 minutes, I opened the oven door and stirred the little meatballs a bit so that they would cook evenly on all sides.  

Since these were for a potluck, I didn't cook them too long because I was going to threw them in the crockpot for a few hours to stay warm throughout the day and didn't want them to dry out. 

So here we have Paleo Greek Turkey Meatballs. If you want to make it true paleo, just take the feta out.  There are still plenty of Greek spices in them.  I just happen to love the taste of feta, so I wanted to keep it in. 

These meatballs got rave reviews!  I was asked for the recipe by several different people, which, to me, proves that eating paleo is not only healthy, but yummy!

  You can serve these plain, or you can heat them in a nice marinara sauce.  You could serve them over some baked spaghetti squash or even in a bowl with a bunch of roasted veggies like mushrooms and carrots and zucchini!


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