There is one Greek dish for which even the most disciplined vegetarian would consider giving up his dietary beliefs for just one bite: the Greek Meatballs With Garlic and Cumin In Tomato Sauce are truly an explosion of taste! The authentic recipe requires first frying these piquant meatballs in oil and then cooking them in a rich tomato sauce.
For a long time now, my sister Irene and I have exchanged opinions, modified recipes, tasted and re-tasted these meatballs in order to make the recipe easier for a week night dinner but also healthier. We concluded on a recipe that completely eliminates the time consuming and unhealthy step of frying the meatballs, without losing the wonderful taste!
The very few ingredients have been carefully selected and are in perfect quantities to maintain the original taste, so don’t be tempted to add anything more, or less.
Chose to serve them with the best quality spaghetti, or a buttery white rice or maybe with some creamy mashed potatoes. Once in a while, we allow ourselves to accompany them with homemade french fries which is the absolute best combination. But you will not exactly know what I am just now describing unless you dip the crispy fries into the garlicky sauce for yourself.
For best results, make sure to read some more tips at the end of the recipe.
For the meatballs:
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 3-4 thick white bread slices, crust removed
- 1 egg
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- salt and pepper
For the sauce:
- 2 large cans whole peeled plum tomatoes (2 x 28 oz. or 2 x 800 gr), crushed in the food processor
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Soak the bread in a bowl of water.
- Make the sauce: In a large non stick pan, heat the oil, add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the crushed tomatoes, the cumin, the sugar, salt and pepper. Let simmer for about 15 minutes until you prepare the meatballs.
- Make the meatballs: With your hands, squeeze the excess water out of the bread. In a large bowl, combine all the meatball ingredients until well mixed. Form small balls in the size of ping pong balls and squeeze them with the palms of your hands to turn them into a sausage shape.
- Place them into the pan and simmer for about 30-35 minutes over medium heat.
- Serve with a choice of spaghetti, rice, mashed potatoes or home made french fries.
Some more tips:
- Select ground beef with a lower percentage of fat (7% or 10% at the most).
- Use canned whole peeled plum tomatoes that you crush in the food processor yourself. The consistency of the sauce will give a tastier result and will make a huge difference.
- If you need to thicken the sauce, remove the meatballs from the pan and simmer the sauce for about 30 minutes, uncovered.
- The quantity of the sauce is a little more than what is needed for this recipe. You can freeze the remaining sauce and use at a later date over pasta or for one of these easy recipes.