These Meatballs Will Give Grandma’s Some Serious Competition

Last Update: September 29, 2022

These tender meatballs in a spicy, flavorful tomato sauce would make any Italian nona proud. Here, we’ve removed the typical starchy noodles accompanying meatballs for a perfectly Paleo feast.

Meatball Bake

Yield: 6 servings
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes


1 pound Thrive Market Ground Beef
1 cup grated shallots, squeezed and drained of their juices
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
3 tablespoons chopped chives
1/4 teaspoon Thrive Market Organic Ground Allspice
1/2 teaspoon Thrive Market Organic Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Zest of 2 lemons
2 teaspoons sea salt

Tomato Sauce

1 cup sliced shallots
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 generous tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup chopped roma tomatoes
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon raw honey
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Sea salt, to taste
1 cup water
Zest of 1 lemon
Freshly ground pepper

1 cup fresh mozzarella and pecorino cheese, sliced (optional)

Place all ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl and mix together with your hands until just combined. Shape into 1-inch sized balls and refrigerate, covered, for at least 1 hour.

For the tomato sauce, sauté shallots in a large skillet with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add in cumin and coriander seeds. Cook, stirring, on low heat for 10 minutes to caramelize shallots. Stir in tomato paste and mix in chopped tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, honey, balsamic vinegar, ground cumin, and salt. Pour in water and let reduce and thicken. Flavors will develop during this time. Stir and taste occasionally for seasoning. Once sauce has thickened, stir in lemon zest and pepper and check again for salt. Reduce 2 minutes more, and set aside.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a cast iron pan. Brown meatballs on all sides until almost cooked through. Pour tomato sauce over meatballs and place in oven to cook through, 8 minutes. If using cheese, turn oven up to 425 degrees, place sliced mozzarella and peccorino cheeses on top, and return to oven. Cook for 5 minutes, until cheese is melted, browned, and bubbly.

Let cool slightly, and serve with olive oil sautéed zucchini noodles.

Photo credit: Paul Delmont

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Merce Muse

Thrive Market Food Editor

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