Thursday, January 27, 2011

Greek Pasta with Meatballs

I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical about this dish.  Actually, I'm still a bit skeptical about it right now!  The thought of making and eating meatballs that don't have Italian flavor was just a bit weird to me.  Somehow, amazingly, this dish kind of came together.  I have to preface this by saying that I am sometimes weary of making recipes that I find in Cooking Light magazine.  I like Cooking Light because the recipes are developed with health and nutrition in mind, and I can appreciate that.  Also, I like to see the nutritional information for the recipes.  You can pretty much tell if something is going to be high or low calorie just by reading the ingredients list, but I always like to see the final breakdown of information, and Cooking Light always includes this for all of there recipes.  With that being said, there are some things I'm not a huge fan about.  The time that they say is required to make a recipe is always wrong.  Inevitably, a recipe that is listed as taking 30 minutes takes me an hour.  Also, the minute amount of oil the recipes call for (keeping health in mind) sometimes just isn't enough!  I tried to follow today's recipe as best as I could.  There were, however, some changes that I made.  First off, the recipe called for ground lamb, and I didn't see that at the grocery store so I went with lean ground beef (it very well might've been there, but, honestly, I was in a hurry and there was an old lady blocking the whole area, taking her sweet time so I just went with the beef).  I also used more oil than the recipe calls for because I was having a tough time with the meatballs sticking to the pan and breaking apart when I was trying to brown them.  The only way to correct that was to add more olive oil.  I'm sure it gave this dish great added flavor, too, although I won't be posting the nutritional info on this one since I made so many adjustments.
All in all, it wasn't a bad dish, but definitely different.  My husband did enjoy it, but I'm not sure if I'll be making this one again.  I'm still posting it because I said I would write about all my adventures in the kitchen, good and bad, and this one is not BAD, just different.  I think I might've liked it more if I did take the time to find and use ground lamb.  I think I just like good old-fashioned Italian meatballs in sauce over pasta.  Either way, this is a tasty, easy dish, and if you are in the mood for Greek flavors, this is definitely one you should try out.  Enjoy the deliciousness!

Greek Pasta with Meatballs
makes 4 servings
1/3 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/3 pound 90% lean ground beef
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 large egg whites
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups jarred marinara sauce
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 cups hot cooked orzo

Preheat oven to 375F.
Combine first 8 ingredients in a medium bowl.  Add egg whites, stirring mixture until just combined.  Shape into 12 (1-inch) meatballs.
Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.  Add meatballs to pan and cook, turning to brown on all sides.  Spoon marinara sauce over meatballs and sprinkle with cheese.  Bake for 11 minutes or until meatballs are done.  Serve over orzo.
Adapted from Cooking Light, September 2010

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