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Pesto Meatballs

Meatballs are one of my favorite foods to prep in advance and freeze for later. I typically have either Italian style meatballs or these pesto meatballs in the freezer at any given time. Whenever I’m in a pinch for dinner, my frozen meatballs can be thrown in the oven and dinner is on the table in no time. 

My kids will happily eat these pesto meatballs for dinner, reheated in their school lunch, or sometimes as a hearty snack before a big practice. They are great as is, with a little dipping sauce, thrown into a hearty soups, or added to a tomato based sauce and served over some pasta. These pesto meatballs are packed with so much flavor, I find that they work best just by themselves. Serve them with a salad or any green vegetable you happen to have on hand. 

For this recipe, I used a lean ground beef, but you could easily swap it out for ground turkey or chicken. My meat selections are often based on what is on sale. Place the meat, cheese, breadcrumbs, eggs, and pesto in a large bowl. If you are using store bought pesto, you may want to consider draining off some of the olive oil. If the mixture is too runny, you will have a hard time forming the meatballs.

Using your hands, mix all of the ingredients together until it is even throughout. Use a large spoon to scoop out roughly one ounce of the mixture and roll the balls by hand or try this handy-dandy meatball maker to form your pesto meatballs. This recipe makes 32-40 meatballs, depending on how big you roll them As a side note, these guys are amazing if you stuff them with a small chunk of mozzarella cheese. 

Once you form your meatballs, place them on a prepared baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until they are cooked throughout. 

Meatballs can be frozen either before or after baking. If you freeze them before baking, they can be cooked from frozen. You’ll just need to add a few minutes to the baking time.

One of the perks of baking them prior to freezing is that they can be popped in the microwave for a quick lunch or snack. Just place your prepared meatballs on a freezer friendly baking sheet prepared with wax paper and place in the freezer. Once frozen, remove the meatballs and store them in a plastic bag or freezer-friendly tupperware for up to 3 months in your freezer.

Enjoy!


Pesto Meatballs

These flavor-packed meatballs can be prepared in advance and cooked up quickly for an easy midweek meal!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Snack
Servings: 32 meatballs

Ingredients

  • 2 lb lean ground beef can be substituted with ground turkey or chicken
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/2 cups pesto drain off some of the extra olive oil
  • 2 large eggs

Instructions

  • Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  • Using your hands, combine ingredients until the mixture is even throughout.
  • Using a large spoon, scoop roughly 1 ounce of the mixture and roll it into a ball by hand.
  • Place rolled meatballs on a baking sheet prepared with parchment paper.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked throughout.

Notes

Freezing your meatballs:
If freezing prior to baking, placed rolled, raw meatballs on a baking sheet prepared with wax or parchment paper. Cover tightly and place in the freezer. Once frozen, remove meatballs and store in freezer-friendly plastic storage bag or tupperware for up to three months. When ready to bake, bake meatballs from frozen, adding 5-10 minutes to the original baking time. 
If freezing after baking, placed cooked and cooled meatballs on a baking sheet prepared with wax or parchment paper. Cover tightly and place in the freezer. Once frozen, remove meatballs and store in freezer-friendly plastic storage bag or tupperware for up to three months. When ready to bake, bake meatballs from frozen until heated throughout. Meatballs can also be heated through in the microwave. 

     

Jessica Barnes, PhD, RDN, LD

Dr. Jessica Barnes received her PhD in nutrition from Texas Woman's University. Her research focused on food preference development and creating materials to help preschoolers become familiar with healthy foods. She has worked with families and communities as a clinical and community Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.

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