Fresh Ideas for Frozen Meatballs
In my Freezer Basics post, I recommend keeping frozen meatballs around for a quick meal, since most varieties can be cooked in under 15 minutes. Pasta and tomato sauce are the most obvious accompaniments, but why not try something different? Here are some other meal ideas for frozen meatballs and “meatballs,” i.e. soy or other vegetarian options.
- Cook the meatballs according to package directions, then serve them on skewers, alternated with cubes of feta cheese and grape or cherry tomatoes. Drizzle with a vinaigrette to add a little flavour. Balsamic is nice, or my favourite Greek feta. Add other vegetables as you prefer or different types of cheese.
- Glaze works too. Cook the meatballs for the first half of the cooking time. When it’s time to turn the meatballs, brush them with a store-bought glaze or one you make yourself. Finish baking then serve with rice and additional glaze. (Be sure to separate a small amount for brushing on the meat, then discard. Use a fresh portion of sauce for serving.) For chicken meatballs, we like the Firecracker Chicken Meatballs glaze, but stores sell all kinds: tamari, balsamic, chili lime, and many inspired by regional cuisines like chimichurri or curry.
- BBQ sauce is always a win. Follow the instructions, above, for glaze, but use your favourite BBQ sauce. Serve the meatballs as they are with a side of fries or mashed potatoes and a vegetable. You can even include a little BBQ sauce on the side for dipping.
- Make the IKEA meatball sauce! The company released the recipe in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, since more people are cooking at home. I prepared the sauce for frozen chicken meatballs and served it with spaetzle, a hearty German pasta you can buy at many delis. It got two thumbs up from everyone in my house. IKEA UK released the recipe on Twitter, in the form of an IKEA diagram. You can find it here.
- Take a page out of the fast food meal book: make meatball subs. Cook the meatballs, heat some store-bought pasta sauce, and toss meatballs in the sauce. Place the saucy meatballs in a sub or hoagy bun then sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan. Let people top it with whatever they like: onions, sauteed or fresh peppers, hot peppers, chopped tomato. Or keep it simple and just add a little fresh basil, if you have it on hand. If you like a lot of cheese, you can put grated mozzarella or cheddar on the subs and place them under the broiler for a few minutes to get more of a pizza experience.
With frozen meatballs, you can have dinner on the table in minutes. If I’m really pressed for time, I microwave them for a minute or so then put them in the oven to finish so they crisp up a bit. If you have a toaster oven, frozen meatballs cook nicely there and save you from having to turn on your full-size oven. Just make sure you cook them to the internal temperature specified on the package. And look for varieties that are lower in sodium and fat.
Image of meatballs by Alexander Babich | Dreamstime