As if the chill of winter wasn't reason enough to make a cozy meal, now with our new series from the Laura Lea Balanced Kitchen, there are WAY more reasons to try out a new recipe. Laura's approach to cooking is all about delicious food, nutritious ingredients, and recipes that are packed with goodness our bodies need. So mark your calendars and look out for Recipes from LL Balanced Kitchen monthly here on Likely Crush.

Spring may be arriving, but the early days feel more like winter than warmth, so we'll enjoy the last licks of the chill with this comfort food recipe. Actually, who's kidding? Comfort food is on the menu year round. And anyone who loves meatballs is most likely a lover of meatloaf; this recipe is a must-try, win-the-heart-through-the-stomach sort of thing.

There are a few tricks to a truly scrumptious meatloaf, and I use them all here. Soaked breadcrumbs, plenty of seasoning and seared meat; all these little touches create one heckuva finished product.

PC llbalanced.com

TOTAL TIME :60 MINS
21 BALLS

INGREDIENTS

M E A T B A L L I N G R E D I E N T S

  • 3 slices gluten-free bread (I use Deland Bakery millet but you can use anything soft)
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 lbs grass-fed ground beef (I use 85/15)
  • 2 eggs (preferably local and free-range)
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast (Optional but adds a cheesy flavor)

S A U C E I N G R E D I E N T S

  • 1 28 ounce can organic whole tomatoes in sauce (I prefer Muir Glen)
  • 1 6 ounce jar tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1/4 cup date sugar (substitute maple crystals, coconut sugar or brown sugar)
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp low-sodium Tamari (sub soy sauce)
  • 1 cup water

DIRECTIONS

M E A T B A L L P R O C E D U R E

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine bread with almond milk. Allow to soak 10 minutes, then drain remaining almond milk.
  2. While bread is soaking, heat a saute pan to medium and add 2 tablespoons olive oil. When oil is shimmering slightly, add onion and saute 2 minutes, stirring, until translucent and fragrant. Add garlic and saute another minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. In the bowl that contains bread, add beef, eggs, parsley, basil, salt, pepper and nutritional yeast if using. Add onion/garlic mixture. Use clean hands to incorporate everything together. Don't overmix. Prepare a slotted baking sheet or large plate with paper towel and side aside.
  4. Heat a large wide pot to medium high heat and add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. When oil begins shimmering, use an ice cream scoop or your hand to form meatballs approximately 3 inches in diameter. Make sure they are packed tightly so they don't fall apart in the pot. Place meatballs in pot side-by-side and allow to sear, approximately 3-4 minutes. Flip using a spatula and sear other side. When meatballs are seared, place them on rack or plate with paper towel underneath. You might have to do this in a few rounds depending on the size of your pot.
  5. When all meatballs are browned, pour excess rendered fat into a glass jar to save for future cooking. Plate pot back on the stove and add sauce. Place meatballs in sauce and heat to a simmer. Simmer for 20-25 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.

S A U C E | P R O C E D U R E

  1. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside until meatballs are ready.
I served mine over lightly steamed zucchini/squash noodles, but you can cook whatever vegetables you like. You could also pair them with a whole grain pasta or serve them in a roll with a bit of melted cheese. Drool.

For more about Laura Lea click here.