Is there anything more comforting and familiar than meatballs? Probably not. Perhaps it’s because meatballs essentially equate tradition, family, and home. They remind us of grandma’s house on a Sunday and massive family gatherings filled with food, laughter, and hugs. So what happens when you deviate from the traditional meatball? Do all those warm and fuzzy feelings dissipate when you throw in a dash of something new and foreign into the recipe? In my opinion, absolutely not. Meatballs are meant to be shared with loved ones, regardless of what ingredients are used.
When I first stumbled across the combination of miso and lemon, I was blown away; it was without a doubt a watershed moment in my lifelong pursuit of delicious things. I started experimenting with different additions, variations, and permutations on the combo, which resulted in these lemon-scented miso-walnut meatballs. Lemon and miso naturally pair together, and the walnut adds a nutty flavor while helping to bind the meatballs and give them substance. It took a few batches for me to get them just right, but I’m pretty happy with this final recipe (but, knowing me, I’ll keep tweaking it until it’s absolutely perfect and can cook itself and also fly).
These meatballs may not be your grandma’s traditional Italian recipe, but some of the best foods are interpretations of the classics. After all, traditions have to begin somewhere.
I love pairing these meatballs with my spicy honey miso dipping sauce, which is perfect for serving as an hors d'oeuvre at parties or BBQs.
For freshness, I served the meatballs alongside a simple watercress and cilantro salad.
The beauty of these meatballs — or any meatballs, for that matter — is how versatile they are. You can pair them with noodles, rice, or throw them in a soup. Or, if you want to make a quick, no-fuss lunch, just put them between bread, add some crunchy veggies, and drizzle with the dipping sauce for a delicious meatball sandwich.
1/3 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/3 cup white miso
1 pound lean ground beef
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
1 medium to large egg
Salt and pepper (season lightly)
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix well.
3. Using your palms, form meatballs roughly the size of golf balls.
4. Place meatballs on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake for 20-25 minutes until slightly browned.
5. Serve with spicy miso honey dipping sauce.