Whether you’re looking for another SuperBowl recipe (I’ve already shared some healthy sweet-and-spicy dip) or just a delicious treat to feed your family, these unassuming meatballs might just be the thing. Sure, I’ve shared meatballs before. We’ve had Swedish Meatballs. Spanish Almond Meatballs. Good ol’ Spaghetti and Meatballs (these aren’t dairy-free, FYI). Needless to say, meatballs are a beloved dish in our house. They are one of the few things everyone in the house will eat without complaint, even the child who refuses to eat hamburgers will still gladly eat meatballs. (And even meatball sandwiches, which makes no sense to me – both are ground meat and bread..? I am not a picky eater, however, so some of the picky eating habits baffle me.)
These particular meatballs are a light and lean variation with clean, Mediterranean spices (I used cinnamon, cumin, garlic, mint, and parsley), but a delightfully American slant, as I used ground bison in place of beef or pork. When I can find ground bison, commonly referred to as buffalo, I love to get it. It’s leaner than beef, but boasts a great amount of protein, iron and vitamin B12. If you can find grass-fed buffalo meat, even better. The meat is flavorful in spite of the leanness, which means your meatball can be “meaty” without being fatty. Not that I’m one to shy away from fat – you won’t find me cutting off the fat on a delicious, grass-fed beef rib-eye anytime soon – but once in a while, lighter is better. That, and I’m an equal opportunity eater – bison deserves a chance at my table just as much as any other protein! That being said, if you prefer to use beef in this recipe, feel free to substitute.
You can serve these meatballs with a squeeze of lemon, or even a more substantial sauce, if you feel like experimenting. I imagine a tzatziki or other cool, creamy sauce would be delicious with these babies. They are great both as an appetizer, or as part of a main meal. For me, they were a success for the picky eaters, as each could decide whether to eat them unadorned, mix them in with a gluten-free pasta I’d made, or squeeze some lemon juice over. Personally? I enjoyed mine on top of a heap of these collard greens. Delish!
Minty Bison Meatballs (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)
1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
6 cloves garlic, peeled
2 T olive oil
2 1/2 lbs lean ground bison or beef
1 c packed flat-leaf parsley
½ c packed mint leaves
½ – ¾ c gluten-free bread crumbs (can substitute almond flour as well)
3 T ground cumin
½ t ground cinnamon
¼ t cayenne pepper
1 ½ t kosher salt
½ t ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees, and arrange one rack in the upper third of the oven, and one rack in the lower third. Place the onion and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Puree until it becomes a paste. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, and scrape onion paste into skillet. Sauté paste until it softens and no longer has a raw taste, about 4-5 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
Combine onion paste, ground beef, eggs, parsley, mint, bread crumbs, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Mix well (using your hands is the easiest method). Form into 1 oz meatballs and place on 2 foil-lined baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Bake both sheets of meatballs on two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven for 10 minutes. Rotate sheets and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove and serve with lemon wedges for garnish.
Makes about 40 meatballs.