I had trouble deciding what to name this meatball recipe, and the fact is that I couldn’t think of anything that did them justice. So I kept it simple for SEO purposes and called them Italian Pork & Parmesan Meatballs, but don’t let the boring name fool you – these keto meatballs are truly amazing!
This dish was inspired by a recipe I found for Italian meatballs served in the Apulian city of Bari (Polpette al barase) in an old cookbook by Joyce Goldstein called Enoteca. The meatballs themselves are pretty similar to the ones in my Low Carb Meatballs alla Parmigiana recipe, but the similarity ends there.
This sauce is simple, and not as “tomatoey” as a traditional marinara sauce because it’s thinned out with chicken broth and enhanced with lemon zest and herbs. It’s bright and fresh, but also rich from the addition of a splash of heavy cream.
Traditionally these meatballs would be served over mashed potatoes or polenta, so I used a parmesan flavored cauliflower puree to get a similar feel. To make this both prettier, and more complex in flavor, I wilted some arugula in olive oil and garlic. The result was a fantastic, slightly bitter component that really made this dish shine.
This low carb Italian Pork & Parmesan meatball recipe has it all. It’s easy to execute (don’t be intimidated by the multiple steps – they are all easy), remarkably flavorful, and pretty enough to make for company if you’re into sharing like that. I promise you that they will LOVE it.
If you aren’t a fan of bitter greens like I am, you could use something more subtle like spinach or swiss chard. Or just eat the meatballs plain with nothing else – they are tasty enough on their own to munch on while still crispy right out of the pan. Well now I’m starving…how about you?
Low Carb Italian Pork & Parmesan Meatballs
An Italian inspired low carb meatball recipe that is easy to execute, and pretty enough for company! Gluten free, keto, lchf, and Atkins diet friendly recipe.
- Yield: 5 servings
For the meatballs:
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1/3 cup almond flour
- 2 Tbsp water
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
- 1 egg
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
For the greens:
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 4 cups fresh arugula, packed (or spinach or swiss chard)
For the Sauce:
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 tsp lemon zest
- 2 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
- 1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
For the cauliflower puree:
- 5 cups cauliflower florets
- 2 Tbsp heavy whipping cream
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
To make the meatballs:
- Combine all of the meatball ingredients (except for the olive oil) in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly.
- Form into 15 meatballs.
- Heat the olive oil in a non-stick saute pan, then cook the meatballs in small batches, turning occasionally until golden brown and cooked through. Set aside.
To make the greens:
- In a medium saute pan, heat the olive oil and garlic.
- Cook for a minute or two until the garlic is fragrant and sizzling.
- Add the arugula (or other greens) and cook for a minute or two, until just wilted and still bright green. Remove from the pan and set aside.
To make the sauce:
- Add the olive oil, onion, and garlic to the same pan you cooked the greens in and cook for a couple of minutes until the onions are translucent but not browned.
- Add the tomatoes and chicken broth and simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Stir in the lemon zest, heavy whipping cream, and fresh oregano.
- Cook for 2 – 3 minutes and remove from the heat.
To make the cauliflower puree:
- Combine the cauliflower, butter, and heavy cream in a microwave safe bowl.
- Microwave, uncovered, on high for 10 minutes.
- Stir to coat cauliflower with cream/butter mixture.
- Microwave for another 6-8 minutes on high or until completely soft.
- Remove from the microwave and put into a high speed blender or food processor along with the cheese.
- Puree until smooth.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. You can adjust the cream and butter to your preference.
- Spread 1/2 cup cauliflower puree on your serving plate.
- Top with 3 meatballs.
- Add about 1/4 cup of the wilted greens around the meatballs.
- Spoon about 1/3 cup of sauce over the top.
- Garnish with additional lemon zest, oregano, and grated parmesan cheese if desired.
Approximate nutrition information per serving:
Naked meatballs (4): 289 calories, 19g fat, 1g net carbs, 17g protein
Cauliflower puree (1/2c): 155 calories, 12g fat, 3g net carbs, 5g protein
Arugula (1/4 cup): 35 calories, 4g fat, .5g net carbs, 0g protein
Tomato sauce (1/3 cup): 59 calories, 5g fat, 2.5g net carbs, 1g protein
- Serving Size: 3 meatballs plus garnish (see below)
- Calories: 535
- Fat: 40g
- Carbohydrates: 7g net
- Protein: 23g
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