Do you have time to cook dinner? Meatballs may seem too time-consuming to be the answer, but my make-ahead meatballs may be the answer.
My time is often uneven – tons of time in the kitchen on Saturday at 10 am, and almost none on Tuesday at 6 pm. On the weekends, I often have hours at home, while my son has a therapist work with him. During the week, our schedule usually feels more frantic, with driving to occupational therapy and other activities. Make ahead meals have become part of my dinner solution for this rhythm of life. On the weekends I assemble and freeze these dinner building blocks (all of which I make lower in lactose using this.) On a weekend, all it takes is a few minutes of hands-on time to have an unprocessed dinner on the table.
These meatballs are a great option that makes enough for several meals. It is a great use for some of those left-over ends of bread in my freezer, as well as for a large bunch of greens that often lands in my produce box. The serving suggestions are almost endless- smaller ones can be a great as an appetizer with sweet chili sauce or floating in an Italian wedding soup. Larger ones are great with pasta or in a meatball sandwich.
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium red onion peeled, halved, sliced 1/3-inch thick
- 3 cloves garlic peeled, thinly sliced
- 1 pound Swiss chard trimmed, stems and leaves sliced 1/4-inch thick
- 2 cups coarse fresh breadcrumbs
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten
- 4 cloves garlic peeled, grated on a microplane
- 2 tablespoons fresh marjoram chopped, or 2 teaspoons dried
- 2 tablespoons Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat a large saute pan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the onions, garlic, and Swiss chard and cover and cook for 5 minutes or until chard softens. Season with salt. Uncover, stir and cook, for 8 or 9 minutes longer, until chard is very tender. Set aside to cool. When cool, chop well and drain any excess liquid. (I often do this step in advance, especially if my produce box threatens to overtake my kitchen – the MUCH smaller cooked amount is easy to refrigerate or freeze).
- In a small saute pan over medium heat, add the breadcrumbs and toast until deep brown but not burned. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, add the chopped Swiss chard, beef, toasted breadcrumbs, milk, eggs, garlic, marjoram, salt, and pepper, and mix lightly with your hands until just combined. Form into golf-sized meatballs.
- To cook now: Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until well browned, turning with tongs if necessary.
- To cook later: Freeze meatballs on a baking sheet. Once firm, remove and place in a sealable bag or container. When ready to cook, remove desired number of meatballs from the freezer, and bake at 400 degrees on a lightly greased baking sheet for about 30 minutes, or until well browned, turning with tongs if necessary.
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