If you’re looking for a crowd-pleasing munchie for the game this weekend, look no further! I have the solution. Greek Meatballs (keftedes) and Romesco Sauce: the Paleo version!
I can’t remember a family get-together at my Theia (Aunt) Effie’s house that didn’t include these delicious, delicious morsels. Traditionally fried and made from lamb, these meatballs are packed with unique Greek flavors like mint and lots of garlic. This version is baked (healthier) and made from beef (cheaper) AND they’re Whole30/Paleo approved.
And these meatballs are served with the most delicious Romesco sauce ever that you will immediately want to put on everything you eat. How’s that for some Spanish/Greek fusion? It works. Trust me.
Of course, you can totally make a more traditional Greek tzatziki (yogurt cucumber) sauce to go with the meatballs if you want, especially if you aren’t on a dairy-free diet. Or, just eat them plain!
Probably the biggest Whole30 challenge, for me, is not actually the food restrictions themselves. It’s the social situations involved with food. If all there is to eat at an event is chips, queso, and gluten-laden foods, I know I won’t be a happy camper. Water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink. It’s almost impossible to resist the unhealthier treats if there aren’t any other options, PLUS there is the fear of offending people by not eating their food. It’s a catch-22.
I made these meatballs for my Nephew’s first birthday party this past weekend. I knew that pizza was going to be the main dish and since I’m still in the reintroduction phase of Whole30, pizza (sadly) wasn’t an option for me. So I offered to make these meatballs as an appetizer, along with a salad. That way I wasn’t awkwardly making a separate meal for myself and not sharing with anyone (rude!), nor was I starving myself staring at the pizza longingly from afar, crying softly. Which I certainly would have been doing had it not been for these delicious keftedes.
In fact, I didn’t even WANT pizza after eating salad and these meatballs!
I cannot say the same thing about my nephew, Ivan, for how much he wanted his first slice of cake. Man, he really dominated it. He tore into it with one piece in each hand, methodically alternating bites from each hand like he had done it a million times before.
I, on the other hand, very much enjoyed my first (and very well deserved, if you ask me) glass of wine after finishing the Whole30.
Anyhoo, back to the recipe!
Amongst the more lovely things about these meatballs and sauce, besides the outrageously delicious taste, is that everything can be made in advance. In fact, you can even make and cook the meatballs WAY in advance, freeze them, and defrost the day before you want to cook them.
I had to freeze exactly seven meatballs because, like a true Greek, I made these in epic proportions (I used a full two pounds of beef) and could not fit them all on my baking sheet. And those tasty, tasty meatballs are just waiting in my freezer for a day when I don’t feel like cooking.
…today might be that day. Get ready little meatballs, I’m coming for you!
A few quick notes about the recipe:
- I cooked them for 25 minutes. It was too long, and they came out a bit dry. I recommend no more than 17-20 minutes, especially since they are so small.
- I used tomato paste in the Romesco sauce instead of traditional straight up tomatoes. This resulted in me having to add more olive oil to thin it out. If you want a lower fat version of the sauce, use fresh or canned tomato AND the juices, with less olive oil. The juices will help thin out the sauce so you can use less EVOO.
- You will probably have leftover sauce. Use it as a dip for veggies- I’ve been packing it in my lunch all week with carrots and broccoli! Or, just get in there with a spoon and go to town.
Recipe below. Enjoy!
Paleo Greek Meatballs (Keftedes) and Romesco Sauce
For Romesco Sauce:
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 15 oz. jarred roasted red peppers drained (or 3 fresh roasted peppers)
- 1 clove garlic roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup tomato paste (1/2 small can)
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- kosher salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Combine all meatball ingredients in a large bowl. I recommend mixing together using hands.
- Using a tablespoon measure, measure equal spoonfuls of the mixture, form into balls, and place on a parchment covered baking sheet.
- Bake at 375 for 17-20 minutes, or until cooked through and browned on top.
- Meanwhile, add almonds to a food processor and pulse until chopped.
- Add remaining ingredients except for olive oil for Romesco sauce and turn on to combine.
- Add olive oil while food processor is running until desired consistency is reached.
- Serve meatballs with sauce.
- Make ahead instructions: When you place the meatballs on the baking sheet, you can place the baking sheet in the fridge and take out when you are ready to bake. Meatballs can be kept uncooked in the fridge for up to two days. Freeze for up to six months in an airtight container (after flash freezing on the baking sheet) and defrost the day before you want to cook.
- The provided nutrition information does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. Feel free to calculate it yourself using this calculator or by adding the recipe to Yummly.