by Missy Chase Lapine
There’s no mystery about the health benefits of these perfectly “normal” looking and tasting meatballs. Yet unlike those at the Italian restaurant, our meatballs are loaded with whole grains and greens. Thanks to a little help from a preschool color wheel, I found that the green disappears into the color of meaty brown when mixed well with the tomato paste. My kids love to eat these off toothpicks or smothered in red sauce on top of their favorite spaghetti. The extras save well for months in the freezer packed in a sealed plastic bag. You can gradually work up to larger amounts of sneaky puree.
Makes about 42 small meatballs
6 to 8 tablespoons Green Puree (See Make-Ahead Recipe #3 below)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup wheat germ, unsweetened
1 large egg, beaten
1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, for browning meatballs
In a large bowl, combine the Green Puree and tomato paste, mixing well (with the back of a fork) until the green color turns brownish. Mix in salt, wheat germ, and egg, and finally add the ground meat and mix with hands until well combined. Using damp hands, pinch off about 2 teaspoons of meat and gently shape mixture into mini meatballs.
Sneaky tip: Mini one- bite meatballs work better than larger ones for hiding purees.
(Below are 2 ways to cook the meatballs, depending on how much time you have. You will definitely get out of the kitchen quicker with the oven-baked method, and the result is nearly as good as the pan frying.)