Italian Meatballs served with Garden Fresh Salad

Meatballs are a family favorite in our house. My Grandpa Al was 100% Italian, both his parents immigrated to America in the early 1900’s from Italy. I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time with my grandfather and learn to make a lot of the foods his mother, my Great Grandma Tessa, prepared. Unfortunately most of the Italian food I love does not have the best nutritional value. But with the changes I made to these I am able to get a taste of my childhood without all the guilt.

My Grandfather, Al Genatone

These meatballs are breadcrumb free! And they are just as moist and tender as the ones I grew up eating. Traditionally a meatball has what is called a panade added to it. A panade is a mixture of breadcrumbs and milk to add moisture to the meatball and keep it from becoming tough and dense. I replaced my panade with almond flour and the meatballs turned out amazing! On special occasions I serve these with gluten free pasta. But for normal week night meals we eat them with my garden fresh salad.


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Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Cook meatballs in sauce 5 hrs
Total Time 5 hrs 55 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 15 of 3 meatballs
Calories 288 kcal


  • 4 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 lbs Italian pork sausage I use the hot, others may prefer the mild
  • 1/2 bell pepper
  • 1/2 large sweet onion if small use the whole onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup almond flour I buy the Kirkland brand at Costco
  • 1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan
  • 1 tsp dried basil ground in spice mortar
  • 2 tsp dried Italian parsley ground in spice mortar
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste


  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Place meat in a large mixing bowl. In your blender (I use the Ninja Blender) puree the bell pepper, 1/2 sweet onion, and garlic cloves. Set 2-3 TBS to the side, to put in the sauce. Add the rest of the pureed ingredients to the meat. Add the rest of the ingredients to the meat and mix very well with hands. Roll out meat balls with hands, see size in picture, roll until they keep there shape. Place on baking sheet with about 1/4 inch of space between each ball. Bake in pre-heated oven for 25 min. Traditionally they are cooked in a skillet, but the baking method saves so much time! When they are done place the meatballs in the sauce. You will have to gently stir the meatballs in several times to fit them all in the sauce. Let cook on low stirring occasionally for 4-6 hours. Serve with fresh grated parmesan sprinkled on top.


Makes about 15 servings of 3 meatballs. Calories per serving: 288. Fat per serving: 18g; Carb per serving: 3g; Protein per serving: 33g. These are estimations as it depends on the size you make each of your meatballs. 


Calories: 288kcal
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Italian Red Sauce

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Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Servings 11
Calories 85 kcal


  • 1 TBS olive oil I use Kirkland brand from Costco
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves
  • 2-28 oz cans of crushed tomatoes I use Hunt’s or Cento
  • 1-28 oz can of tomato sauce I use hunts or Cento
  • 2 tsp of dried basil ground in spice mortar
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme ground in spice mortar
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram ground in spice mortar
  • 1 tsp dried oregeno ground in spice mortar
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped sweet basil
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • *1/2 tsp of stevia *optional ingredient only used if the sauce is tasting very acidic.


  • Heat up olive oil in a 6+ quart heavy duty stainless steel stock pot on medium heat. Once heated add in chopped garlic. Let sauté for 2-3 minutes, be sure to not let the garlic burn.
  • Stir in pureed onion, bell pepper mix.
  • Turn heat down to low, add cans of crushed tomato and tomato sauce.
  • Stir in all dried spices, fresh basil, salt, and pepper.
  • Let simmer on low heat for about 30 minutes or longer for more flavor. I cook mine on low heat all day with the meatballs in it.


Makes 11 – 1 cup servings. Calories per serving: 85. Fat per serving: 1g; Carbs per serving 15g; Protein per serving: 3g. 


Calories: 85kcal
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I hope you enjoy these as much as our family!

Garden Fresh Salad

Tessa Ludwig
I make this salad almost every single night of the week. I also have it at lunch many days with left-over meat tossed into it. This is so easy, the specialty vinegar gives it so much great flavor.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 mins
Course Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 5 :3/4 cup servings
Calories 80 kcal


  • 4 cups Mixed greens of choice I like the addition of arugula
  • 2 green onion stalks or 1/8 of a sweet onion diced
  • 1 1/2 oz of shredded sharp white cheddar I use Tillamook vintage reserve
  • 1 TBS of olive oil (Kirkland extra virgin)
  • 2 TBS of Traditional aged balsamic vinegar from the specialty vinegar store (I use a garlic cilantro flavored or serrano honey)
  • sea salt and pepper to taste


  • Place mixed greens, onion, and cheese in an over sized bowl. Drizzle olive oil and vinegar on top. Salt and pepper. Then toss with salad tongs.


Serving: 0.75cupsSodium: 77.8mgSugar: 1.2gFiber: 0.5gPotassium: 72.7mgCholesterol: 10mgCalories: 80kcalMonounsaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gSaturated Fat: 2.8gFat: 6.4gProtein: 3.4gCarbohydrates: 2.2g
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Tessa Ludwig


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