I have a deep obsession with all foods that live in the realm of Mediterranean or Middle Eastern influenced. I am so drawn to the flavors, spices and herbs. Like CAN. NOT. GET. ENOUGH. Yotam Ottolenghi is my spirit animal and when we lived in London I LOVED eating at his restaurants. One of my favorite parts of this type of food is that you can create a smorgasbord by making a handful of different dishes and then you can mix and match them as you please throughout the week. And they are all so easy to make super healthy. What's better than that? (That is a rhetorical question. The answer is, "NOTHING!")
I will say, making meatballs requires a little finesse sometimes, particularly with ground chicken or turkey. It is easy for these to become too dense to where the texture is less than appetizing. Truth be told, I usually use #glutenfree Panko (which is a rice flour), but because I wanted these to be Whole30 compliant AND keto, I needed a different flour to help keep these balls intact. The first attempt, in which I also did not use egg because I was trying to also make them egg free, was a COMPLETE fail. I am not kidding when I say that they looked like a dog had pooped cookie dough....not cute, not tasty and definitely NOT blog worthy. So I went for another attempt using almond flour and egg (so sorry for those of you who are sensitive or allergic! I tried!) and BOOM! They came out perfect. See below - but beware, you might start drooling.
Chicken meatballs are a staple in our house, especially considering the fact that my husband does not eat any meat other than chicken and therefore, I have to get creative. That being said, you could 100% use ground turkey if 1, you can not find an organic ground chicken or 2, ground chicken weirds you out (even though ground turkey is basically the same thing...). Also, if you are making these as a #ketofriendly meal, then I would HIGHLY suggest adding 1/4 cup of crumbled feta. My favorite feta is the sheep's milk feta from Trader Joe's and it is perfect if you are sensitive to cow's milk. Obviously if you are on Whole30 then you have to leave out the feta, but if you are not on Whole30 then ADD THE FETA. You won't be sorry. Promise :)
To me, one of the most essential components of these meatballs are the fresh herbs. I am OBSESSED with #herbs, and honestly, you should be too. I always have fresh herbs in my fridge so I can add them to any meal I am making. *Pro trick: trim your herbs, put them in a jar with some water & put them where you will see them in the fridge so it not only looks prettier when you open it, but you remember you have them & to USE THEM.*
Let me give you the quick rundown on why these lil green leaves are da best:
Herbs are little flavor bombs that can make just about anything taste better than it did without them. And when you use them, you look like a profesh chef.
They are often full of vitamins & minerals. For example, parsley has a significant amount of vitamins A, C & K. *This recipe has a bunch of parsley. You're welcome.*
Herbs are full of polyphenols which are basically plant compounds that are shown to be amazing for inflammation & even act as anti-oxidants. In other words, they are also little superfoods. Who knew?!
In my opinion, the best part of the these meatballs, besides all the bomb ass herbs, is getting to have a vessel to eat my Lemon Garlic Aioli. I usually double the recipe and just keep the extra on hand to put on anything and everything. Oh, and the harissa. I LOVE me some spice so harissa really hits the spot. There is mild and spicy harissa out there so pick one depending on your tolerance. My favorite harissa is this one. I paired these #mediterranean chicken meatballs with some massaged kale, but they would be great with some roasted veggies, cauliflower rice, cauliflower mash, on top of a big salad or even made into smaller meatballs as an appetizer for party. In other words, you can't screw up what you make as a side for these babies. The only screw up is to not make them. So go! Run, don't walk! Make these Mediterranean Chicken Meatballs ASAP! AND BUY MORE HERBS!
Whole30 Mediterranean Chicken Meatballs
1 lb. organic ground chicken or ground turkey
¼ cup almond flour
2 tbsp. coconut or almond milk
1 egg, beaten
3 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped + extra for garnish
1 tbsp. fresh dill, chopped + extra for garnish
½ tsp. cumin
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. red chili flakes
pinch of cinnamon
*¼ cup crumbled feta if not dairy-free or on Whole30
**if using dry herbs: ½ tbsp. dried parsley & 1 tsp. dried dill
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Mix almond flour and coconut milk in a large bowl. Add beaten egg & mix until fully combined.
Add ground chicken, garlic, parsley, dill, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, red chili flakes, & cinnamon. (Add feta here too if using). Using a fork, mix just until combined.
Lightly oil hands with avocado oil & using a spoon or cookie scoop, form 12 meatballs & place them on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake for 20-25 min, or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
Serve garnished with fresh herbs, harissa (I like this one) & lemon garlic aioli.
Lemon Garlic Aioli
1/3 cup avocado oil mayo (my go-to)
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ lemon, juiced
1 tbsp. olive oil + more for thinner consistency
½ tsp. salt
Combine mayo, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil & salt in a small bowl with a whisk. Drizzle over everything.