This is what I had

Some of you, I’m afraid, think that I eat only butter and chocolate, but that is wrong: I only mostly eat butter and chocolate.

Just kidding! I love vegetables and eat them a great deal. One of my favorite wintertime solo meals (solo meaning, obviously, that no one else in my family likes the food—or is around—and so I eat the meal alone) is sauteed Swiss chard with a fried egg and Gruyere, or Parmesan, sprinkled over.

One of the smartest things I did last winter was to harvest a wash basket load of chard, and wash, chop, and freeze it, not even blanching it. Now, when I’m taking a break from butter and chocolate I just run down cellar, fetch a quart container of the chard, rinse it under hot water and toss it into a pan with some melted butter (can’t quite fully get away from the butter, it appears), or olive oil, a minced clove of garlic, maybe some chopped onion, some generous shakes of salt, and a grind of black pepper. I toss it about for ten minutes or so, turn it out into a soup bowl, top with the egg and cheese, and voila!

I love my solo meals.

Don’t look too hard at that picture—you’re not going to find an egg, no matter how squinchy you make your eyes ’cause those are meatballs nestled in the chard.

See, the other day when I ate solo, I decided to forgo the fried egg in place of some leftovers, tiny meatballs simmered in chunky tomato-wine sauce. I think it was even better than the egg, if that could be possible.

Adapted from Epicurious

The original recipe called for a mix of ground pork, veal, and beef, but I used all beef because that is what I had. It would probably be more tender with the mixed meat; I plan to find out in the near future.

The lemon is crucial—do not skimp or substitute.

My kids popped these balls like candy, just plain, fresh from the oven. They even took some without asking, risking invoking my wrath and proving the profound deliciousness of these meaty morsels.

2 onions, chopped
10 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
3 cups bread, torn into bits
3 cups milk
6 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups Parmesan cheese, grated
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped, or 2 teaspoons dried
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon lemon zest
4 teaspoons salt
1 ½ teaspoons black pepper
4 pounds ground beef (or replace some of the beef with pork and/or veal)

Saute the onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil until translucent. Set aside

Soak the bread in the milk for five minutes, strain, saving the bread and discarding the milk (or save for some other baking purpose).

In a large bowl, mix together the soaked bread, eggs, spices, cheese, sauteed onions, and meats—in other words, everything.

Shape the mixture into small balls and place (fairly close together) on a baking sheet that has sides. Bake at 375 degrees for ten minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, turn the meatballs and return them to the oven for another five minutes, or until the meat is no longer pink on the inside and at least one side of the meat has browned. Repeat with the rest of the meat mixture.

Of course, you could also fry the meatballs in an inch or two of olive oil.

Add the meatballs to your favorite tomato sauce and serve over pasta or sauteed Swiss chard. Any meatballs that you don’t use right away (and this makes a lot, so unless you have a dozen children, you will definitely have leftovers) or that the kids don’t snitch, can be dropped into glass jars and frozen.


  • Anonymous

    This is a really good recipe, but I dont understand why everyone thinks the only good meatball cooking coptions are frying or baking. Baking dries them out, and frying makes them fall apart/not round/too greasy. Broiling is the best meatball cooking method! great crust on the entire outside and they remain moist inside…give it a try!

  • Anonymous

    I know it's late but I leave the lids off my jars until the food is frozen. I started doing that after they broke the first time I tried and haven't had a problem since.

  • Anonymous

    Oh how I do love these meatballs! I am trying to find substitutes for any wheat products in what I prepare. As I thought about what the bread and milk do, I decided it gave it moisture so I used a pack of mushrooms, finely chopped to obsure them from the kiddos. Worked beautifully! YUM

  • Anonymous

    The freezer is only 2 yrs old. I’m going to try filling them less. I usually fill to right before it starte to curve up.

    I have a few recipes for cakes and breads to cook in large wide mouth jars. When they are done baking you place metal lids on them. When it cools, the lids seal and the cakes/breads are suppose to keep. Last year I tried, but it wouldn’t bake all the way through without drying the outside. I was hopeful that my zucchini bread could be kept like this. I’m going to try this year again.~Betsy

  • Jennifer Jo

    Well, you have me stumped. I don’t think it’s the lids (unless you are screwing them on extra tight). I mostly use quart mason jars, but I also use other types of jars, and I even bang them all around—often they’ve settled to the bottom of the freezer in a big ol’ heap. Is your freezer working properly—staying at the same temperature?

    And I’ve never heard of making cakes in self-sealing jars. What are you talking about?

  • Anonymous

    I’ve tried that. I’ve even looked in the freezer and the jars have been broken! Could it be the type of jar or lids I’m using? I bought the plastic freezer lids, but am not sure if they were worth the price. Sometimes I wonder if it happens when I open the door and the temp difference causes it to crack. Either way thanks for the help, and I’ll keep trying.

    Have you ever tried making the cakes or breads in a jar that self seal?

  • Jennifer Jo

    Betsy, When freezing liquids (or meatballs IN sauce), only fill the jars three-quarters of the way full. That way you have room for the liquids to expand without cracking the glass. But when I freeze my oven-roasted tomatoes, dried fruit, meatballs (no sauce), etc, I fill the jars all the way full and they don’t break. I hope that helps!

  • Anonymous

    Help! I’ve tried freezing in jars before and whenever I take them out to thaw they crack. Tell me the secret to keeping them whole. ~betsy

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