Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sun-Dried Tomato Meatballs with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

(Advisement:  This might be the BEST MEAL I EVER MADE!!!!  The pesto is KILLER!  It actually made me wish I could take good photos so that you could understand the amazingness.)

So, Costco.  It's a beautiful place.  I can get a pound of baby greens for 3.99 (can't BEAT that!), giant vats of green chiles, and a stockpile of body wash.

I do have to be careful, though.  It's not like a normal grocery store where you can shop the circular and walk in knowing EXACTLY what you need.  There is no get in, get out with Costco.  Strange things happen when I shop there.  I might find the tastiest looking seaweed snacks or a decadent dessert.  I might find a bottle of Taittinger at a very competitive price.

I also might see a giant bottle of beautiful food and feel like perhaps I could make delicious goodies with it, even if that quantity of that ingredient is way above my cooking experience level.  I throw caution to the wind and buy it anyway.

Then I think, holy nuts, what am I going to do with 40 oz of x, y, or z

I'm in the holy nuts stage regarding a lovely bottle of sun dried tomatoes I purchased a few months back.

Look at that! 2 lbs!
Sun dried tomatoes are a food that I have only ever used once (and while good, that was a powerful flavor I couldn't possibly eat all the time).  Yet, every so often I see something that looks really good with sun dried tomatoes starring in the recipe.

I have decided to start my first attack on this sizable bottle with Sun Dried Tomato Meatballs with Creamy Pesto from Everyday Paleo.  I had just dedicated myself to the quest for recipes that would make a dent in my 2 lb bottle of tomatoes when this recipe came through my rss feeder.  I took it as a final sign that the brand of tomatoes she was talking about was the brand sitting in my very kitchen!  I was also pleased as punch to see that these tomatoes are "reputable." No filthy, imposter stuff here!

I had wondered about meatballs without any bread or fake bread product.  I didn't notice in the original recipe if Sarah said anything, but I had heard that the secret to moisture in burgers and loaves is to NEVER squish the beef.  I gently put together my meatballs by scooping the amount I wanted, rolling in my hands 3 times and setting it aside to put in the pan.  Perfection.  My beef was perfectly moist.

As for the recipe, I did sub in actual cream for the coconut cream.  That's how I roll.  I also HATE walnuts in any form, so I used pistachios instead, and man, was that an amazing, serendipitous move. Also, this recipe took up almost a fourth of my tomatoes... according to rough estimates before I started cooking.  However, from the looks of the bottle, I've barely made a DENT.  At least I now have a slamming recipe to use up any extras!

best ever tomato pesto!!!
Meatball ingredients:
2 lb ground beef
2 T minced chives
1/2 c minced sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil (i confess, i licked my fingers in the making of this dish)
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 T coconut oil

Pesto ingredients:
1 cup pistachios (I... don't like walnuts.  I used pistachios, hesitantly, and lemme tell ya, it WORKS!!!)
1/2 c olive oil
3 garlic cloves
***I'm omitting the 1/2 tsp salt bc my pistachios are already salted)
2 c basil leaves
1/4 c sun dried tomatoes
1/2 cream or coconut cream (I used regular cream because that's what I had)

1) Preheat oven to 375.
2) Mix all meatball mixins except coconut oil, which ya melt in the skillet.  Personally, for all that "mincing," I used my food processor.  I started with the tomatoes and garlic since they were more chunky and less delicate than the chives.  Plus, all of those ingredients are also in the pesto, so no red to wash the processor in the middle.  Score!
3) Brown meatballs on all sides in skillet and either transfer skillet to oven or transfer meatballs to an oven-safe dish and put that in the oven.
4) Cook meatballs for 8-10 minutes in oven.
1) While meatballs are a'cookin', add pistachios through garlic to processor and create paste.  Add those other, more delicate ingredients and process until smooth.

Costs: beef: $8, chives $1, sun dried tomatoes $1, garlic: .10, coconut oil .10, pistachios 1, olive oil $1.50, basil: .50, cream, .50.  Total 13.70 for 5 servings, 2.74 per serving.

More expensive because I used grass fed beef, but I'm okay with that.

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