Though I’m not Italian by blood, I grew up in an Italian neighborhood in Connecticut. For a few years we lived on the second floor of a three family house owned by a tiny old Italian couple that barely spoke English. I loved hearing them speak Italian to each other, and always wished I knew what they were saying. Probably something along the lines of “Why won’t this annoying little girl leave us alone!?”
There was always Italian opera music on the record player, a pot of tomato sauce on the stove, and jordan almonds in a little dish on the table at their house. Out back, the husband (we’ll call him Mr. F) had a huge garden where he grew tomatoes, peppers, beans, basil, and even grapes – from which he made his own wine in the basement.
Every Summer Mr. F. would fire up a huge cauldron on a propane burner outside and cook down what seemed like mountains of tomatoes, which would then end up in Mason jars lining the basement shelves. He’d also roast the red and yellow peppers over the burner, and then steam the skins off in brown paper bags. I will never forget that delicious smell – it’s one of my favorite early food memories.
His wife, Mrs. F., taught my mother how to make real Italian bread, sauce, pasta, and other delicious and authentic Italian dishes. My mom then passed some of those recipes on to me. One of the first things I ever learned to cook as a child was “gravy” or meat sauce – and it was always loaded with links of both hot and sweet Italian sausage.
Sometimes, instead of eating it with pasta, we’d take the sausage out of the sauce and make sandwiches with it. Traditionally a sausage and peppers hoagie, grinder or sub (depending on where you lived) would be loaded with Italian sausage, lots of peppers and onions, red sauce, and some optional parmesan cheese.
These low carb meatballs are an ode to that classic sandwich from my childhood. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!
A low carb and gluten free meatball recipe inspired by the classic Italian sausage and peppers sandwich.
For the meatballs:
- 1 lb sweet (or hot) Italian sausage
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup almond flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1 Tbsp parsley flakes
For the topping:
- 2 cups no sugar added marinara sauce
- 1 cup sliced onions
- 2 cups sliced red and yellow peppers
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- parmesan cheese (optional)
- fresh oregano leaves (optional)
For the meatballs:
- Combine all of the meatball ingredients in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly. Form into 21 meatballs. Fry the meatballs in a nonstick pan coated with olive oil, until golden brown and cooked through. Alternatively you could bake the meatballs on a cookie sheet for about 20 minutes at 375 degrees (F).
- Heat the marinara sauce in a medium saucepan, and add your cooked meatballs to the sauce. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the meatballs are tender.
For the Peppers and Onions:
- Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan. Add the onions and peppers and cook over medium heat until slightly browned and softened (but not mushy), about 5 – 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Spoon some marinara onto a plate. Top with onions and peppers, then the meatballs. Spoon a small amount of marinara over the meatballs and garnish with parmesan cheese and fresh oregano if desired.
Approximate nutrition information:
per naked meatball: 108 calories, 9g fat, .3g net carbs, 8g protein
per 3 naked meatballs: 324 calories, 27g fat, .9g net carbs, 23g protein
per serving (3) with toppings: 388 calories, 31g fat, 4.9g net carbs, 24g protein
- Serving Size: 3 meatballs, 1/4 cup peppers, 1/4 cup sauce
For more great low carb and gluten free meatball recipes, check out some of these other Meatball Monday favorites – the Jamaican Jerk Meatballs, Loaded Nacho Meatballs, Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Pesto Meatballs, and Green Chicken Enchilada Meatballs!16