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Neapolitan Meatballs

March/April 2008

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A touch of cinnamon distinguishes these delicious tomato-sauced meatballs. Adding whole-grain bulgur allows you to use less meat, resulting in meatballs with less than half the total fat and saturated fat of the original. Plus a vibrant-tasting combination of fresh and canned tomatoes in the sauce helps reduce the sodium by two-thirds. Serve with pasta, polenta or even on a whole-grain roll with a bit of melted part-skim mozzarella for a meatball sub.



READER'S COMMENT:
"I found, after reading over the ingredients, that there seemed to be, at least according to my taste a disparity in the ratio of the sauce to the amount of meatballs. I adjusted this to my thinking. I also adjusted the cooking times and...
Neapolitan Meatballs Recipe

Makes: 8 servings, 2-3 meatballs each

Active Time:

Total Time:

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup bulgur, (see Ingredient Note)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 8 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups diced plum tomatoes, (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 2 cups cubed whole-wheat country bread
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 pound 93%-lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar, (optional)

Preparation

  1. Place bulgur in a medium bowl and cover generously with hot water. Let soak for 30 minutes. Drain in a fine sieve, pressing to remove excess liquid.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring, until softened but not browned, about 1 minute. Stir in canned tomatoes and plum tomatoes; increase heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low. Partially cover and let simmer while you prepare meatballs.
  3. Place bread in a medium bowl and cover with cold water. Let soak for a few minutes. Drain and squeeze out moisture.
  4. Whisk egg and egg white in a large bowl. Add the bulgur, the bread, beef, Parmesan, cinnamon, pepper and salt. Gently combine with a potato masher and/or your hands. Form into 20 oval meatballs about 2 inches long.
  5. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, until browned all over, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; blot with paper towels. Brown the remaining meatballs.
  6. Mash the simmering tomato sauce with a potato masher to break down any large chunks of tomato. Add the meatballs to the sauce. Simmer over low heat, partially covered, for 50 minutes.
  7. Taste the sauce and add sugar, if it seems tart, and additional pepper to taste. Serve the meatballs with the sauce.

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
  • Ingredient note: Bulgur is made by parboiling, drying and coarsely grinding or cracking wheat berries. It simply needs a quick soak in hot water for most uses. Look for it in the natural-foods section of large supermarkets, near other grains, or online at kalustyans.com, lebaneseproducts.com.

Nutrition

Per serving: 283 calories; 11 g fat (4 g sat, 4 g mono); 73 mg cholesterol; 20 g carbohydrates; 23 g protein; 5 g fiber; 687 mg sodium; 271 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (60% daily value), Vitamin A (30% dv).

Carbohydrate Servings: 1

Exchanges: 1/2 starch, 1 vegetable, 2 1/2 lean meat


More From EatingWell

Recipe Categories

Preparation/ Technique
Saute
Braise/Stew
Meal/Course
Dinner

Holiday
Super Bowl
Ease of Preparation
Moderate
Total Time
More than 1 hour
Servings
8 or more
Type of Dish
Main dish, meat
Main Ingredient
Beef
Ethnic/Regional
Italian
Publication
March/April 2008

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