Thursday, February 21, 2019

Mediterranean Meatballs with Orzo Salad

This was one of those meals that I was certain would be hated and detested by all my children. As I was rolling out the meatballs and seeing the flecks of white from the feta cheese and the bits of green from the parsley and spinach, I could just envision all the children balking and gagging and possibly picking their food apart so as to avoid the suspicious flecks and specks. I met Paul for lunch shortly after I had finished forming the meatballs and left them to rest in the fridge and told him, "I don't know what I was thinking making this for dinner tonight. I know everyone is going to hate it!"

But, you know what? Nobody hated it. Well, except Lucy. And even she didn't exactly hate it, she just didn't eat anything but she rarely eats dinner even when it's pizza, so she doesn't count.

Matthew praised the meal and called me "a genius" and "an amazing chef." He might have been trying to earn an extra story at bedtime or possessing some ulterior motive like that, but I don't care. I took the compliments and ran with it. Emma even praised the Orzo salad and I normally can't get her to touch anything with lettuce, olives, or vinaigrette with a 10-foot pole.

Daniel was a fan. This kid. He so has my heart. I can't get over how voracious his appetite is. Even without teeth, he gobbles down as much meat as we are willing to give him. He's so different than my other kids who far preferred carbohydrates at his age. But he's all about the meat! Although in this picture, I'm obviously trying to distract him with applesauce and cheerios. Notice he's not eating them. He's waiting for me to fry up some bacon.

The beauty of this dinner is just how adaptable it is. I love Greek flavors and have lately been throwing them together with every protein I can and then serve it on top of a salad of some sort. That's what I did with these meatballs - I put together an Orzo salad with Mediterranean flavors and serve the meatballs over top. However, these would also be amazing served stuffed inside a pita along with lettuce, tomato, red onions, and Tzatziki sauce. You can also use ground turkey instead of ground beef for a healthier option.

Mediterranean Meatballs with Orzo Salad

For the meatballs:
2 pounds 90% ground beef
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 egg, beaten
1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 heaping teaspoons salt
1 heaping teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
Zest of one lemon

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with foil. Grease thoroughly.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly with clean hands. Shape into walnut
sized meatballs. Place meatballs in prepared pan so they are just touching.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until meatballs are browned and cooked through, flipping once during cooking. Serve with the Mediterranean orzo.

For the Mediterranean Orzo:
16 ounces orzo pasta
1 large yellow or red pepper, diced
1 medium tomato, chopped
1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped
1 cup fresh spinach, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
1/2 cup herbed feta crumbles
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
The zest of 1 lemon
Salt & pepper, to taste

Cook orzo according to package directions. Rinse with cold water and drain.

In a large bowl, toss pasta with chopped bell pepper, olives, spinach, basil and feta. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. You will need a generous amount of salt and pepper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon zest, and vinegar. Season with additional salt and pepper. Pour over pasta vegetable mixture and stir to combine. Chill before serving.

1 comment:

  1. This salad looks fantastic! If a salad is kids-approved, then it must be good. I can't get orzo pasta over here and I guess any other pasta or even rice will work.