When my one-year-old son first started eating table food, I was still at a place in my post-partum “adventure” where cooking felt a bit Sisyphean. I’d browse inspiring recipes, print them out, buy all the ingredients and then they’d sit untouched in the fridge. I tended to rely heavily on Whole Foods’ prepared and packaged meals, justifying the sky-high price tag by telling myself it was the next best thing to home-cooking.
One of my son’s favorite meals was spaghetti with pesto-parmesan chicken meatballs from their poultry department. But we ran through the small package pretty quickly and although delicious, they were a lot saltier than I’d like for my little one.
Once I got back into the kitchen in earnest, this was one of the first things I decided to recreate. Since we don’t eat much red meat and because my guy is now drinking cow’s milk, which is lower in iron than formula, I went with beef instead of chicken and sneaked in some spinach.
These are absolutely heavenly, just like “mama” might make and they’re a total snap to prepare. They take all of five minutes of actual hand’s-on time, which feels miraculous when that’s about all the time you have to get dinner ready.
Makes 10-12 racquetball-size meatballs
1 ¼ pound lean ground beef – $3.99
¾ cup Italian-style breadcrumbs – $2.29
1/3-cup basil pesto (homemade or store-bought) – $3.99
¼ cup of finely chopped fresh spinach (I often pulse it in the food processor) – $1.99
¼ cup freshly grated parmesan – $2.25
1 extra large egg, lightly beaten – stock
A pinch of salt and pepper – stock
Grand total assuming “well-stocked” kitchen: $14.51
Cost per meatball: $1.20
1. Preheat the oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly with your (clean) hands. Roll the meatball mixture into racquetball-size balls (somewhere between a golf ball and a tennis ball). Place meatballs onto prepared baking sheet, spacing about 1-2 inches apart
3. Bake for 10 minutes then flip and bake for another 10 minutes, or until cooked through. Serve alone or atop spaghetti with marinara