These Greek Meatballs capture the exquisite flavors of sun-kissed Greece and will make your taste buds sing and have you coming back for seconds!
Thank you to Lindsay for sponsoring this post!
Our family loves meatballs. For many of us they’re linked to childhood memories of comfort food around the family dinner table or a favorite Italian restaurant. My mom made the best Swedish meatballs along with two others that will forever remain family favorites: Some deliciously creamy meatballs that she baked with biscuits on top and some barbecue meatballs that are downright amazing and have wowed many dinner guests over the years.
And so my love of meatballs continues, is equally shared by my husband and has been passed down to our children. What I love about meatballs is they’re not only thoroughly enjoyable to eat, they’re also fun to make (rolling those plump balls and watching them sizzle and fry and fill your kitchen with a luscious aroma) and they’re the perfect medium for experimenting with a variety of flavors and ingredients. (And yes, I have some more fun ones coming!) And today’s recipe is one example.
Our family also loves Greek flavors. Our Homemade Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce is one of our favorite go-to dishes. So I wanted to create some Greek-inspired meatballs incorporating traditional Greek ingredients and flavors. These Greek Meatballs were a total hit!
These Greek Meatballs incorporate the flavors of sun-ripened tomatoes, caramelized red onions, roasted garlic, wine, roasted eggplant, Greek spices and fresh mint, to name a few. And of course we can’t have Greek meatballs without Kalamata olives. Originating from the sun-kissed regions of southern Greece in the town of Kalamata, they’re famous for their smooth, meaty texture and robust flavor.
And our 3 1/2 year-old daughter is obsessed with them.
It all started when she saw my husband popping some over a year ago and wanted to try them. She hasn’t been able to stop since. You’d think because of their strong flavor she’d shy away from them and just stick with the mild black olives. No, she loves her Kalamatas at least as much. And that does her mommy proud to see her enjoying one of our planet’s most healthy and widely researched superfoods as her choice of snacks.
What’s funny is that as much as she also loves meatballs, when it was time for dinner she ended up eating all of the olives off her plate and leaving the meatballs, ha! We had to coax her back to the table and remind her to finish her meatballs, which she did, but only after requesting we add a few more of the olives to her serving.
I am so thrilled to have Lindsay Olives joining us for today’s post! Lindsay has been a favorite American enterprise for a century now, producing California’s finest olives and this year they’re celebrating their 100th anniversary. Our family has been enjoying their olives for many, many years. In fact, it’s my dad who started the tradition of always bringing out a bowl of olives for virtually any and every family meal: Italian food, of course. Greek food, it’s a given. Mexican food, naturally. Indian food…why not? Leave it to my dad. He always finds a way to incorporate them and after all these years it almost feels unnatural not to have them at the table.
Greek Meatballs Recipe
Ready for some great food? Then roll up your sleeves and get ready to make some Greek Meatballs!
Let’s get started!
First we’re going to get the eggplant going so that can roast while we’re working on the other stuff. Select an eggplant that is on the narrow side. Fat ones tend to have more seeds which results in a bitter flavor. The peel also tends to be bitter in flavor and tough in texture, so peel the eggplant completely.
Dice it into chunks about 1/4 inch in size. You can make them larger if you prefer.
Don’t worry about tossing them with lemon juice to prevent them from getting brown. They’re going to get very brown while roasting them anyway.
Toss them with a little salt and the olive oil along with the garlic and spread them out single-layer on a lined cookie sheet.
Roast them in the oven preheated to 425 F for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned, turning once with a spatula after about 10 minutes. Remove Set aside. Once cool, peel and mince the roasted garlic.
Let’s make the meatballs!
Combine all of the meatball ingredients in a large bowl.
Combine to incorporate the ingredients, either using your hands or a food processor.
Form the mixture into 1-inch balls, you can make them larger if you prefer.
Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and brown the meatballs on all sides.
I prefer the seared flavor that frying gives the meat, but if you prefer you can also bake them by laying the meatballs on a lined baking sheet an baking them in an oven preheated to 400 F for about 17-20 minutes.
After frying the meatballs, transfer them to a plate and set aside. Add the red onions and a little more oil if needed and cook them until soft and caramelized, about 6-8 minutes.
Add the red bell pepper and cook for another couple of minutes until softened.
Add the wine and bring it to a rapid boil. Boil for 2 minutes.
Next we’re going to add the crushed tomatoes. For the best flavor, I recommend certified canned San Marzano tomatoes from Italy. They have a flavor and sweetness that just can’t be adequately replicated anywhere else. Place them in a bowl and crush them.
Add the roasted eggplant, roasted garlic and all of the sauce ingredients, except for the olives, parsley and mint, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.
Return the meatballs to the sauce, cover and simmer for another 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Now it’s time to take those lusciously plump Kalamata olives.
Drain them and add them to the meatballs.
Cover and simmer for another 5 minutes then stir in the chopped parsley and mint.
Garnish with some extra parsley and mint and serve with crusty bread, rice or orzo and a Greek salad or leafy green salad.
You can also serve them sprinkled with some crumbled feta cheese.
NOTE: These meatballs taste even better the next day after the flavors have had time to meld. So this makes a perfect make-ahead dish.
- For the Meatballs:
- 1 pound ground beef or pork, lamb, chicken, turkey (or combination of beef and pork)
- 1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs (paleo: omit, gluten free - use GF breadcrumbs)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
- 2 cloves garlic ,minced
- 1/4 cup finely chopped Kalamata olives (I used Lindsay Naturals Kalamata Olives)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 3/4 teaspoon oregano
- 3/4 teaspoon thyme
- For the Roasted Vegetables:
- 1 medium eggplant ,choose one that isn't too fat but more slender to avoid too many bitter seeds, peeled and diced into 1/4 inch pieces
- 5 cloves garlic ,peels left intact
- 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- For the Sauce:
- 1 medium red onion ,chopped
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small red bell pepper ,seeded and diced
- 1/2 cup dry red wine ,or use white if using chicken or turkey
- 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes (I recommend certified San Marzano's from Italy)
- 1/3 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil ,drained
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1 cup whole Kalamata olives ,drained (I use and recommend Lindsay Naturals Kalamata Olives)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- First get the roasted eggplant and garlic going. Toss them with a little salt and the olive oil and spread them out single-layer on a lined cookie sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned, turning once with a spatula after about 10 minutes. Remove Set aside. Once cool, peel and mince the roasted garlic.
- Combine all of the meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Use your hands or a food processor to incorporate the ingredients. Form the mixture into 1-inch balls (you can make them larger if you prefer).
- Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and brown the meatballs on all sides (See NOTE for oven baking method). Transfer the meatballs to a plate and set aside.
- Add the red onions and the oil if more is needed and cook them until soft and caramelized, about 6-8 minutes. Add the red bell pepper and cook for another couple of minutes until softened. Add the wine and bring it to a rapid boil. Boil for 2 minutes.
- Add the roasted eggplant, roasted garlic and all of the sauce ingredients, except for the olives, parsley and mint, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Return the meatballs to the sauce, cover and simmer for another 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the whole Kalamata olives, cover and simmer for another 5 minutes then stir in the chopped parsley and mint.
- Garnish with some extra parsley and mint and serve with crusty bread, rice or orzo and a Greek or leafy green salad. You can also served the meatballs sprinkled with some crumbled feta cheese.
- NOTE: These meatballs taste even better the next day after the flavors have had time to meld. So this makes a perfect make-ahead dish.
Disclosure: A special thank you to Lindsay for sponsoring this post and a thank you to my readers for supporting the brands I love that help make The Daring Gourmet possible!