These Greek meatballs are hearty, tender and moist, and they come nestled in an intriguingly spiced tomato sauce.
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Meatballs are one of my favorite comfort foods. I like them any and every way: in a traditional Québécois stew, spiked with ginger and sesame in an Asian-style soup, served on top of spaghetti and sprinkled with Parmigiano-Reggiano, or served as a cocktail hour snack.
When I traveled to Greece, I had the pleasure of discovering meatballs were often served as a mezze–a happy hour bite–slathered in a thick tomato sauce. The meatballs were a hearty, flavorful snack that was sometimes served hot, other times room temperature. With a glass of Greek red wine, they were the perfect late afternoon snack. I came back home obsessed with reproducing the deep flavors of that Greek mezze at home.
These Greek meatballs are tender and moist, and they are served nestled in a spiced tomato sauce, which makes the dish super fragrant and somewhat intriguing. I like to serve Greek meatballs garnished with crumbled feta cheese for a briny, salty kick, along with some steamed rice and a side salad.
For the Greek meatballs: In a food processor, or a mini food processor, combine the bread, milk, and mint leaves or dried mint. Process to get wet breadcrumbs. Alternatively, you can tear the bread into small pieces, then transfer to a bowl and mix in the milk. Let rest for 10 minutes, then vigorously stir to bread up the bread. Mix in the mint. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the onion, eggs, and oregano. Season with the salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Mix in the breadcrumbs, then add the meat. Using your hands, crumble the meat and mix it with the flavorings, making sure to thoroughly combine the meats and distribute the flavorings properly.
Set a rack in the middle of the oven, then preheat to 425°F (210°C). Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil, then grease with cooking spray or by lightly coating with oil. Shape 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the meat mixture into an oval meatball. (You can alternatively shape the meat into 2 tbsp/30 ml round meatballs.) Transfer the meatball to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat to shape all the meatballs. You should get about 20 large oval meatballs, or 40 smaller, round meatballs.
Bake large, oval meatballs for 14 minutes, or small, round meatballs for 9 minutes. Turn the broiler on and brown the meatballs for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside if the spiced tomato sauce isn’t ready yet.
For the spiced tomato sauce: In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the ground tomatoes, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and cayenne pepper, if using, and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat and cook for 15 minutes, stirring from time to time.
Nestle the meatballs in the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes, or until the meatballs are hot and cooked through.
SERVING: Garnish the Greek meatballs with crumbled feta cheese and chopped flat-leaf parsley. Serve with steamed rice or egg noodles and a side salad.
STORAGE: Store leftover meatballs in portions in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 1 month.
Did you make this?
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