Summer Meatballs

summer meatballs

Summer Meatballs

I don’t know about you but I tend to think of meatballs as a wintery type dish. But they can be given a summery makeover. All it takes is a super fresh lemony sauce and serving on a bed of baby spinach instead of the more usual, hearty meatball accompaniments.

takes: 45 minutes
makes: enough for 2-3

500g (1lb) minced (ground) beef
75g (3oz) almond meal
2 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup lemon juice
natural yoghurt, to serve
1 bag baby spinach, to serve

1. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F). Mix beef and almonds. Season. Form into meatballs using a tablespoon and your hands.

2. Place meatballs in a medium baking tray. Top with lemon juice and stock. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until well browned and cooked through.

3. Serve on a bed of baby spinach with yoghurt drizzled over the top.


vegetarian – make these lentil balls and cook with the lemon + vegetable stock mixture on this page instead of the tomato based sauce.

less ‘meaty’– soften 2 large chopped onions in a little oil. Combine cooked onions with the beef and almond meal mixture.

nut-free – replace almond meal with soft bread crumbs.

budget – make the meatballs go further by serving on a bed of mashed potatoes, with pasta or with crust bread and butter.

wintery meatballs – replace stock and lemon juice with tomato puree or canned tomatoes and serve with grated parmesan instead of the yoghurt.

dairy-free – make a gremolata by chopping together a handful of parsley, zest of one lemon and 1/2 clove garlic. Sprinkle on top instead of the yoghurt.

short on time
– either pan fry meatballs or increase oven temp to 250C / 480F – meatballs should cook in 20 mins.

carb lovers / more substantial – serve with spaghetti, flat bread or tortillas.

more substantial (low carb) – roast nuts. Cauliflower rice.

keto / ultra low carb
– replace yoghurt with mayo.

paleo (gluten, grain + dairy-free) – skip the yoghurt or use coconut yoghurt or cashew yoghurt.

more veg – add summer veg such as cherry tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers (capsicum).

Reheating Guidelines

Pop in the oven (180C / 350F) with a cover on for 20 minutes or until warmed through.
If frozen, allow to defrost in the fridge before heating in the oven. Do not try to go straight from freezer to oven because the outsides of the meatballs will overcook before the insides have had a chance to defrost.

Serving Suggestions

straight up – as per the image above.

with bread
– serve meatballs, baby spinach and yoghurt wrapped in pita bread with the sauce for dipping.

carb lovers – serve on a bed of cooked spaghetti or cooked quinoa or couscous cooked according to the packet.

Storage Best Practices

Store in an airtight container. Will keep in the fridge for 2 weeks or so.
Easy freeze meal? Can be frozen for up to 12 months.

Waste Avoidance Strategy

beef – pop it in the freezer.

almond meal – keep in the pantry.

chicken stock – fresh stock will need to be frozen. Tetra pack or cubes will keep in the pantry.

lemons – will keep for weeks in the fridge.

yoghurt – will keep for weeks in the fridge. Doesn’t freeze well so eat it for breakfast or another meal.

baby spinach – either wilt down the leave in a pot with a little oil and keep in the fridge for a few weeks or just pop the bag in the freezer and use as wilted greens when defrosted.

Problem Solving Guide

balls falling apart – next time compact the balls more firmly together with your hands. And make sure you don’t stir them too early on in the cooking process.

bland – be generous with the seasoning. Next time use better quality meat.

sauce too acidic or sharp? – add a few tablespoons of olive oil or butter for extra richness.

balls browning too much – cover with foil and cook until done.


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  • I ma de the vegetarian version with lentil balls, unfortunately it didn’t working too well with the broth… no being meat, the liquide immediately began eating them away and I ended up with a delicious baked lentils soup. Will have to try the lentil balls cooked in tomato next time, or cook them separately from the sauce…

  • I took the “winter” suggestion and made these with tomato puree.

    First, I was very skeptical of serving warm meatballs on top of cold spinach, but that was actually super yummy, fantastic!

    I wasn’t sure if the almond meal measurement was 3oz by weight or volume, so I went with the latter. It combined fine, but they were a little crumbly once cooked, and a little too mushy for my taste. I’d do it by volume next time. I do really like the idea and texture of using almond meal instead of bread crumbs.

    I couldn’t find straight tomato puree so I went with tomato sauce which I think is better for this anyway. It was slightly too tangy for me. Next time I’d combine either a little butter or carrot with it, or maybe both.

    I did add some additional seasoning to the meatballs and really liked the flavor of them. Salt, pepper, about 1 tsp (maybe a little more) of Italian seasoning and about 1/2 tsp of fennel. Yum!

    These were served beside some oven roasted veggies and made a great substantial dinner.

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