A touch of cinnamon distinguishes these delicious tomato-sauced meatballs. Adding whole-grain bulgur allows you to use less meat, resulting in meatballs with less than half the total fat and saturated fat of the original. Plus a vibrant-tasting combination of fresh and canned tomatoes in the sauce helps reduce the sodium by two-thirds. Serve with pasta, polenta or even on a whole-grain roll with a bit of melted part-skim mozzarella for a meatball sub.
From EatingWell: March/April 2008
Yield: 8 servings, 2-3 meatballs each
Active Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours
- 1/2 cup bulgur, (see Ingredient Note)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 8 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
- 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes
- 4 cups diced plum tomatoes, (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- 2 cups cubed whole-wheat country bread
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg white
- 1 pound 93%-lean ground beef
- 1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar, (optional)
- Place bulgur in a medium bowl and cover generously with hot water. Let soak for 30 minutes. Drain in a fine sieve, pressing to remove excess liquid.
- Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper; cook, stirring, until softened but not browned, about 1 minute. Stir in canned tomatoes and plum tomatoes; increase heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low. Partially cover and let simmer while you prepare meatballs.
- Place bread in a medium bowl and cover with cold water. Let soak for a few minutes. Drain and squeeze out moisture.
- Whisk egg and egg white in a large bowl. Add the bulgur, the bread, beef, Parmesan, cinnamon, pepper and salt. Gently combine with a potato masher and/or your hands. Form into 20 oval meatballs about 2 inches long.
- Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the meatballs and cook, turning occasionally, until browned all over, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; blot with paper towels. Brown the remaining meatballs.
- Mash the simmering tomato sauce with a potato masher to break down any large chunks of tomato. Add the meatballs to the sauce. Simmer over low heat, partially covered, for 50 minutes.
- Taste the sauce and add sugar, if it seems tart, and additional pepper to taste. Serve the meatballs with the sauce.
Tips & Notes
- Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
- Ingredient note: Bulgur is made by parboiling, drying and coarsely grinding or cracking wheat berries. It simply needs a quick soak in hot water for most uses. Look for it in the natural-foods section of large supermarkets, near other grains, or online at kalustyans.com, lebaneseproducts.com.
Nutrition Per Serving: 283 calories; 11 g fat (4 g sat, 4 g mono); 73 mg cholesterol; 20 g carbohydrates; 23 g protein; 5 g fiber; 687 mg sodium; 271 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (60% daily value), Vitamin A (30% dv).
1 Carbohydrate Serving
Exchanges: 1/2 starch, 1 vegetable, 2 1/2 lean meat