Robin Miller's Great Balls of Fire: One Meatball, Three Sauces

Robin provides the perfect basic meatball recipe using turkey or beef to dress up with one of three sauces: spicy tomato, wild mushroom and orange soy sauce.

Meatballs are crowd-pleasers, whether it’s just you and your kids or a group of your besties. They can be shaped small and served with toothpicks as a fun appetizer, or made larger and nestled over pasta, rice or mashed spuds for a hearty and comforting meal. Since they’re also endlessly versatile, I’ve created three sauces – all in an effort to inspire you to make them for dinner or plan a party around them. Yep, they’re that good. Beef or turkey, you make the call.

Basic Meatballs
Serves 4

1 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 large egg
1/4 cup seasoned dry breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (see note with Orange Soy Sauce recipe below)

1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil

Combine all ingredients but the olive oil in a large bowl. Mix well.  Shape mixture into 16 meatballs.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add meatballs and cook 5 minutes, until browned on all sides. Remove meatballs from pan and set aside. Choose a sauce below and proceed as directed.

Beef Meatballs

Nutrition Info Per Serving
Calories: 183
Total Fat: 9 grams
Saturated Fat: 3 grams
Total Carbohydrate: 6 grams
Sugars: <1 gram
Protein: 21 grams
Sodium: 382 milligrams
Cholesterol: 109 milligrams
Fiber: 1 gram
Turkey Meatballs

Nutrition Info Per Serving
Calories: 176
Total Fat: 6 grams
Saturated Fat: 1.6 grams
Total Carbohydrate: 6 grams
Sugars: <1 gram
Protein: 25 grams
Sodium: 382 milligrams
Cholesterol: 98 milligrams
Fiber: 1 gram
Spicy Tomato Sauce
Serves 4
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup diced white onion
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more as desired)
28-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons sundried tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper and onion and cook 3 minutes, until soft. Add crushed red pepper and cook 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and tomato paste and bring to a simmer. Add meatballs, reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes, until meatballs are cooked through and sauce reduces slightly. Remove from heat and stir in basil. Top with Parmesan before serving.

Nutrition Info Per Serving (sauce only)
Calories: 102
Total Fat: 4 grams
Saturated Fat: 1 gram
Total Carbohydrate: 15 grams
Sugars: 9 grams
Protein: 5 grams
Sodium: 353 milligrams
Cholesterol: 4 milligrams
Fiber: 5 grams
Wild Mushroom Sauce

Note: I suggest using beef broth when using beef and chicken broth when using turkey.

Serves 4
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced

8 ounces sliced wild mushrooms (cremini, shiitake, oyster, portobello, or a combo)

1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup reduced-sodium beef or chicken broth
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallot and garlic and cook 3 minutes, until soft. Add mushrooms and thyme and cook 3-5 minutes, until mushrooms soften and release liquid.

Whisk together broth, Worcestershire sauce and cornstarch and add to pan. Bring to a simmer.  Add meatballs, reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes, until meatballs are cooked through and sauce thickens. Remove from heat and stir in parsley.

Nutrition Info Per Serving (sauce only)
Calories: 66
Total Fat: 3 grams
Saturated Fat: <1 gram
Total Carbohydrate: 8 grams
Sugars: 2 grams
Protein: 3 grams
Sodium: 52 milligrams
Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
Fiber: 1 gram
Orange Soy Sauce

You can eliminate the Parmesan cheese from the meatballs when you choose this sauce, though I left the cheese in mine and the dish was amazing. 

Serves 4
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 cup low sugar orange marmalade
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oils together in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallions and ginger and cook 2 minutes, until scallions soften. Add marmalade and soy sauce and bring to a simmer. Add meatballs, reduce heat to medium and cook 5 minutes, until meatballs are cooked through.  Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.

Nutrition Info Per Serving (sauce only)
Calories: 130
Total Fat: 2 grams
Saturated Fat: <1 gram
Total Carbohydrate: 26 grams
Sugars: 21 grams
Protein: 1 gram
Sodium: 302 milligrams
Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
Fiber: <1 gram

Robin Miller is a nutritionist, host of Quick Fix Meals, author of "Robin Takes 5" and “Robin Rescues Dinner” and the busy mom of two active little boys. Her boys and great food are her passion. Check her out at www.robinrescuesdinner.com.

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