Recipes for Runners: Pimento’s Italian Meatballs

I’ll start off by saying, This one is for the carnivores! I’ve previously shared my kale salad and my minestrone soupย recipes, both of which can be made vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, clean, dirty, paleo, or other fill-in-the-blank diet fad.

This recipe? Full of meat, cheese, gluten, and soul. Scrumptious. Perfect for those times during high-mileage training when your muscles are craving protein.

I’ve been known to pop a left-over meatball, or three, into my my mouth straight out of the fridge after a tempo run. They’re that good and so very hard to resist. You’ll definitely want your mouth all over these balls. And so will your friends and family.

The base of this recipe comes from my college boyfriend’s mother, who was probably the best cook I have ever met: gourmet or multi-course meals every night at her house, prepared all afternoon as she drank Canadian whiskey on the rocks, chain-smoked, and did the crossword. When I asked her for a recipe, she was always gracious enough to share, but she never included any of the spices she used and she always left out the secret ingredient. This left me trying to figure out what the secret was and, for most all the recipes she gave me, I failed.

Not this one. I cracked it. And unlike her, may she rest in peace, I will not leave out *what makes these balls so good*.

Pimento’s *Pesto* Meatballs

  • 1 pound ground beef, the leaner the better (you can use ground turkey but I think ground turkey is gross, or do half beef/half Italian sausage)
  • 1 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oregano or Italian seasoning mix
  1. img_4953Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl; start with a spoon, but finish by kneading it with your hands so you get everything very evenly mixed together.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, then use a 1/8 cup measuring cup to scoop out the meat mixture and roll with your hands into a ball. (This is a perfect-sized meatball: not giant, not bite-size, but in between).
  3. Bake for 20 minutes at 400ยฐ and promptly remove from the pan.

Like most everything I cook, this makes a big batch so there are plenty of left-overs for lunches and post-run or workout snacks. The first night I usually serve them with pasta, red sauce, and a salad or other vegetable, but they are fantastic to use for meatball subs, too. Make these the day before, then throw them in the CrockPot in marinara a couple hours before dinner time and serve with cheese and rolls for make-your-own meatball sliders. The minestrone recipe I gave you last time? That tastes great with a pair of balls thrown in your bowl.

Fast, easy, satisfying, cheap, good for several meals … these balls do it all. Enjoy!

I'm an elementary P.E. teacher with a long-term, ongoing marathon addiction.The next big goal? Keeping up my BQ streak while aiming for a 3:10! I write about the not-so-glamorous side of running and fitting in serious training with a family while staying sane(ish).

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    1. While most roles in our household our reversed, my husband handles the balls and that’s his preferred mix, too. We also sear in a pan then simmer in red sauce. However, this usually means we eat at 10 p.m. because the process takes forever, so Pimento’s is definitely more time-efficient. I love the pesto idea!

  1. Yeah, we do beef/pork, 50-50. But I LOVE the idea of using pesto! Is that the secret ingredient? b/c it’s genius!

    1. I made them for a long time with just the salt/pepper/spices and people still liked them, but once I threw in the pesto the heavenly choir sang “hallelujah!”