Spinach Lamb Meatballs

Sometimes you get recipes from a cookbook, or online, or from a friend. This recipe for spinach lamb meatballs started in a cookbook in NY, bounced to the US West coast, and then back again to NY. It was a cross-country collaboration!

Here’s what happened.  A friend had some ground lamb and was looking for dinner ideas.  I mentioned a spinach lamb meatball recipe I had and gave her the ingredients.

She wanted to serve her meatballs with marinara sauce, so I suggested she might want to change it around a bit (the original recipe called for nutmeg, which wasn’t going to work with marinara sauce). Also, while the recipe I had fit her requirements, it was, honestly, a bit bland, and needed more punch.

She added her own spin, then told me what she did. I made a few more changes, and ended up with this recipe.

Red wine vinegar stands up to the lamb’s assertive flavor, while cumin adds a warm, nutty, slightly spicy bite. The spinach adds color, and those all important vitamins and iron too.

It’s pretty easy to put together too. First, you sweat the onions (cook them over low heat for a few minutes, until they become transparent). Then wash and dry the spinach (this is important, otherwise the meatballs will be too moist and won’t hold together). The rest is simply measuring, mixing, and rolling.

Spinach Lamb Meatballs Substitutions and Variations

  • try red wine (say a Pinot Noir) instead of the vinegar
  • add an extra flavor punch and spice with some harissa
  • use ground beef instead of lamb
  • skip the cumin and have the meatballs with marinara sauce
  • serve the meatballs with Greek yogurt and cucumber

More Lamb Recipes

turkish lamb burgerTurkish Lamb Burgers

Rich, messy, and absolutely lip-smackingly good. These burgers are stuffed with feta and garlic, then topped with a tangy, refreshing yogurt cucumber sauce.


lamb merguez sausage with rice and vegetablesLamb Merguez Sausage with Rice and Vegetables

Bring a hint of Morocco to your kitchen without traveling.  Flavored with cinnamon, cumin, carrots, and chili, this dish is warm, spicy, and only takes about 30 minutes to prepare.

lamb kofta meatballsLamb Kofta Meatballs

A feast for both the eyes and the taste buds, these meatballs are flavored with toasted nuts, sweet/minty cardamom, and earthy spinach. No eggs needed and no breadcrumbs.



Easy Italian Meatball Recipe for One

I may cook quite a few “exotic” or complicated dishes, but sometimes something simple and comforting and nostalgic really hits the spot.  And when it comes to nostalgia and comfort food, it’s hard to beat an old-fashioned, but easy, Italian meatball recipe.  Just thinking about spaghetti and meatballs makes me smile.

This recipe is easy, quick, and just perfect for one person. Yes, one person.  Just six meatballs.

You can serve your meatballs the classic way, with spaghetti and pasta sauce, but they’re also great for making a fast Italian wedding soup.

If you like, double the recipe and split between the two. If you don’t want the soup right away, just pop the meatballs in the freezer.  Then days, or weeks later you can defrost them and treat yourself to soup in a few minutes.

I’ve kept this recipe simple, and easy, but you can change it to suit your own tastes and preferences.  Check the end of the post for some inspiration.  You can make it spicier, swap the bread crumbs for oatmeal or potato starch (to make it gluten-free), or use turkey instead of beef.  A mixture of pork and beef is good too.

Substitutions and Variations for Easy Italian Meatballs

  • use a mixture of ground beef and pork, instead of just beef
  • add more garlic
  • add oregano
  • if you don’t have breadcrumbs, grind up some oats in a mini-chopper,  use quick-cooking oats, or try potato starch
  • use ground turkey or chicken instead of meat (if you do, I recommend getting the dark meat turkey; it tastes better)
  • add a splash of sriracha


Easy Meatball (and Ground Beef) Recipes for One

sloppy joes one person recipeSloppy Joe Recipe for One Person

A bit messy, but worth the extra napkin, this Sloppy Joe recipe is wonderful comfort food.  Heck, a friend saw the recipe and wanted some right away! It may bring back childhood memories, but this is for grownups. It packs a bit of a kick.

easy Italian wedding soupEasy Italian Wedding Soup

Make your meatballs, add some broth, and other standard ingredients, and you have soup. And you don’t have to chop for an hour or wait for it to simmer either.


compound butter cheeseburgerCheeseburger with Compound Butter

Turn your burger into a gourmet treat with compound butter. Soften the butter, mix in some herbs, and add that to your ground beef. The beef is moister, more flavorful, and tastes wonderful, with very little effort.

white ragu papardelleWhite Ragu Pappardelle Pasta for One

A delicious change from the usual ragu. There’s not a tomato in sight.  Instead, this dish has ground beef, sausage, white wine, and earthy porcini mushrooms, blended with a touch of cream.

Sweet and Sour Turkey Meatballs

This recipe for sweet and sour turkey meatballs with jelly and chili sauce is comfort food that’s grown up and gone to the big city.

When I was a kid, my grandma used to make those classic grape jelly meatballs. Kind of sweet, but comforting and simple. As my tastes have gotten more sophisticated, I wanted something with more complex and “grownup” flavor: not quite as sweet, a little more sour, and with a bit of a spicy kick.

I replaced the grape jelly with no sugar strawberry jam (it’s sweetened only with juice, there’s no sugar or artificial sweetener), then added chili sauce, a bit of Tabasco and apple juice and got sweet and sour turkey meatballs.

My parents were visiting one day, and decided to stay for dinner. I had ground turkey and the rest of the ingredients in the fridge. I whipped up a batch of these, and I swear you’d think they’d never eaten before. Dad was sopping up the sauce with bread. Heck, he practically licked the plate! Maybe I should have called these “lick the plate clean sweet and sour meatballs.”

You make this recipe in two stages, first the meatballs, and then the sauce.  Put the meatballs in the oven for a few minutes to keep them from falling apart when you add them to the sauce.

Sweet and Sour Turkey Meatballs with Jelly and Chili Sauce Substitutions and Variations

  • Use beef instead of turkey
  • Replace the oatmeal with breadcrumbs
  • Try cranberry juice instead of apple cider (it will be a bit more tart)
  • Experiment with different jam flavors: strawberry, raspberry, four-fruit, sour cherry (you could even go back to good old grape)

Tools and Ingredients for This Recipe

St. Dalfour Strawberry Conserves

This jam (technically conserves) is sweetened only with juice. There’s no sugar and no artificial sweeteners. The other thing I like about it is that there aren’t any extra thickeners added (like maltodextrin) to bulk it up.

Black & Decker 2-Speed Food Chopper with 3-Cup Bowl

I’m not sure which I use more, this chopper or the immersion blender. If you make the recipe with oatmeal, this little gadget is great for grinding it up. It’s also good for chopping onions, potatoes, or whipping up a small batch of pesto. The bowl doubles as a storage bowl (it comes with its own lid).

OXO Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop

Ever hear of a cookie scoop? I hadn’t, until recently. Ice cream sure, but not cookies. The more I think about it the more uses I come up with.

It would be great for meatballs, cookies, or the perfect scoop of tuna, egg, or potato salad. It has a soft handle that’s easy to grip (it was originally developed for someone with arthritis, but it works well for everyone). Dishwasher safe too.

More Turkey Recipes

easy spicy turkey soupQuick and Easy Spicy Leftover Turkey Soup

Not the usual turkey soup. This one is inspired by south of the border flavors with tangy lime,  spicy cayenne, and cool sour cream.


easy leftover turkey soupEasy Leftover Turkey Soup Recipe

If you prefer the more traditional route, try out this turkey soup. It’s packed with veggies, including potatoes, carrots and (don’t tell anyone) frozen veggies. Less chopping!


cranberry chipotle turkey enchiladaCranberry Chipotle Turkey Enchilada

Another south of the border inspired way to eat up all those leftovers.  This one is sweet, spicy, and quick too.


turkey pot pie for one personTurkey Pot Pie for One Person

Turkey, peas, and carrots, enrobed in a flaky all-butter crust.  And, this one is scaled down for one person.


Easy Italian Wedding Soup

I’m not Italian, so don’t hit me if this easy Italian wedding soup recipe isn’t authentic. It is, however, quick and satisfying.

There are plenty of recipes out there that require over an hour to make and a long list of ingredients. Sure there are times when I’m perfectly happy to spend an hour or more making soup, but there are other times when I’m hungry and I don’t want to wait!

This soup recipe goes from start to finish in about fifteen minutes.  It hardly even requires cooking at all.  Just dump, pour, and heat and you’ve got a fast, easy soup. It’s great when  you don’t feel like fussing.

Besides, something about soup is just comforting, especially on a chilly day.

All you need are a few simple ingredients: meatballs (frozen are fine, or make them ahead), chicken broth, a can of white kidney (cannellini) beans, parmesan cheese and some spinach.


I had some chopped beef to use up the day I made the soup, so I whipped up a few meatballs  with some onion, garlic, bread crumbs, egg, and oregano.  You can use pre-made or purchased frozen ones if you like, it will turn out just fine! If you do buy meatballs, I recommend the Trader Joe’s party meatballs.

Also, there was a bit of cabbage left in the fridge, too little to do much of anything with, so I added that in too for some extra vitamins.

Substitutions and Variations for Easy Italian Wedding Soup

  • Use chicken to make your meatballs
  • Add some cooked sausage
  • Saute some garlic and add that to the soup
  • Use garbanzo beans instead of white kidney beans

More Soup Recipes

spicy beef noodle soupSpicy Beef Noodle Soup for One

This garlicky, spicy beef noodle soup only takes a few minutes to prepare.  The garlic fights germs, the steam eases congestion, and it’s just plain comforting on a cold day.

ham and lentil soupEasy Ham and Lentil Soup for One Person

Filling, and delicious too, without a lot of work. Just chop, pour into the pot, and let it all simmer. Easy!


caldo verde soupQuick Caldo Verde Soup

Simple and easy, with a garlicky punch.  You only need a few ingredients and about 30 minutes.


pasta e fagioli soupPasta e Fagioli Soup (Small Batch)

A bowl of comfort packed with tomatoes, pancetta, and rosemary. Pantry- and budget-friendly too.