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Easy-to-make meatballs with no bread or fillers is a meal the whole family will love with a tip for great tasting sauce.
Meatballs With No Bread: A Great Comfort Meal
As the weather begins to turn in on us here in the northern hemisphere, we think comfort food.
While there are varying types of comfort dinners, I imagine you’ll always find meatballs with pasta in the top 10.
There’s also many recipes around for meatballs. This recipe is for meatballs with no bread. This one comes from Britain of all places. Specifically Mary Berry. What I liked best about this recipe was the curious omission of any bread or breadcrumbs. When I find a recipe that does things counter to the way I already do them, I must try it and see if it’s any good. I can say that I wouldn’t be posting my take on a recipe if it didn’t so I urge you to try it too.
Since they don’t contain any bread per se, this probably could work into a low-carb or keto eating plan. Again, I’m not a nutritionist so I can’t pass any authoritative judgement. However, if you follow any of those plans, and want a recipe for meatballs with no bread, give it a look (and possibly a try) and see if it can fit your diet.
What Is Passata?
Many recipes that originate in Europe for tomato sauce call for passata.
All passata is is unprocessed strained tomatoes. They’re very thick with a texture similar to the tomato puree sold in the USA. Tomato puree is a very good substitute however, you can find passata here in the USA but it’s just called “strained tomatoes.”
Strained tomatoes come in a paper box similar to juice boxes. If your store carries them, they’ll be right by the canned tomatoes. Be careful though; the brand I buy also does chopped tomatoes and other varieties that are flavored. Be sure to read the label so you make sure you’ve got the proper variety.
At first I was very dubious about the trick ingredient in this recipe: water.
This goes against what you think when it comes to concentrating flavor. Who’d ever believe that “watering down” a sauce can make the flavor more intense.
I decided to try it because Mary Berry did say it worked. With all her experience, I trusted what she said, but I had to see for myself because I’m such a doubting Thomas. Well, it worked and it’s something I plan to continue especially with tomato sauces. I imagine the reason it works is primarily due to the fact that you reduce the sauce somewhat; however, not entirely. Bottom line is I can’t answer the why. It just works!
Family Style Meatballs
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves put through a press or finely minced
- 2 tbs Parmesan or Romano cheese
- 1 tbs fresh thyme finely chopped or 1 1/2 tsp dried
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 egg
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/3 tsp pepper
- 2 tbs oil
- 1 large onion coarsely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves crushed
- 20 oz tomato puree or passata—see NOTES
- 1-2 dashes hot pepper sauce optional
- 2-3 tbs fresh basil chopped
- 10 oz water
- salt & pepper to taste
- For meatballs: mix all ingredients except the oil. Shape into 24 even-sized balls. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a large heavy skillet. Add the meatballs and brown over medium-high heat on all sides. You may have to do this in batches—don’t crowd the pan. Remove browned meatballs and keep warm.
- For the sauce: in the same pan you cooked the meatballs add the onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat until they begin to get tender. Then lower the heat and cover the pan allowing the onions to cook completely.
- Stir in the tomato puree/passata, water, hot sauce and salt & pepper to taste. Let the sauce gently boil over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes so that the sauce reduces about 25 percent. Add the meatballs to the skillet and half of the fresh basil. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining basil to garnish.
- Serve over pasta of your choice