Put time into dinner now, and you can make it last forever—or at least the whole week. Welcome to Halfway to Dinner, where we show you how to stretch your staples—or your seasonal produce—every which way.
My secret to weeknight dinners is simple: I make a big batch of meatballs over the weekend and store them in the freezer for the week. That way, when I'm tired, busy, under the weather, or simply craving meatballs, I can defrost a few and cook them up in no time. While my meatball recipe is Swedish, they lend themselves to so many different flavor variations and international cuisines. Here are five ways to take your frozen meatballs around the world:
More: Looking for a vegetarian option? Replace meatballs with herby falafels.
Meatball Subs with Smoky Barbecue Sauce
I love this recipe for smoky barbecue sauce not only because it's so addictive, but also because it lends itself to such an easy, enjoyable meal. After you whip up a batch of homemade sauce, pop the meatballs into the oven topped with mozzarella, and broil them until they're golden brown. Once they're done, pour the sauce on top to pep up your meatballs, and place them snuggled up next to some refreshing cabbage and watercress slaw in a soft white roll. Once you've had your fill, the cooked meatballs keep in the fridge for up to 10 days—hello leftovers.
Meatballs on Brown Rice with Spicy Peanut Sauce and Asian Slaw
The peanut sauce is the star of this recipe—it's extremely easy to make and gives a real zing to the meatballs. To prepare the salad, mix together chopped vegetables with peanuts in a large bowl, reserving some peanuts and spring onions for garnish. Shake together sesame oil with rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, and grated ginger to make a dressing, then pour it over the salad and toss gently. In a separate bowl, layer brown rice with the salad mix and top with meatballs and peanut sauce. The fresh flavors of the slaw and delicious nutty texture of the rice make for a bright, satisfying meal.
Mexican Meatball Wraps
These wraps are one of my family's favorite meals. Packed with flavor, healthy, and filling, they are perfect for any time of day: breakfast, lunch, or dinner. To make them, place the meatballs into a large casserole dish with a spicy bean mix flavored with adobe and topped with shredded cheese. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve cradled in tortillas with sour cream, avocado, cilantro, chile peppers, and a squeeze of lime.
Meatballs with Indian Spiced Eggplant and Minty Yogurt
The magic of this meatball combination comes from the spiced eggplant and the fresh, cool minty yogurt. Serve the meatballs with the yogurt sauce at either hot or room temperature over homemade naan. If you have any leftover eggplant, use it as a pick-me-up for the rest of your weeknight meals, with cooked meats, sandwiches, and scrambled eggs.
I have never been to Sweden (though I hope to go one day!), but in the meantime I can always satisfy myself with a generous helping of these fabulous meatballs. This recipe is for around 40 to 45 meatballs cooked in a gravy spiced with nutmeg, dill, and allspice. Serve them garnished with additional fennel or dill sprigs over a good dollop of mashed potatoes or wide egg noodles. Spoon gravy on top right before serving, and enjoy them with lingonberry jelly on the side.
Makes 40 to 45 meatballs
2 pounds and 3 ounces minced pork
1 pound minced beef
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
4 slices white bread, crusts removed and roughly torn into bite-sized pieces
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
3/4 cup ricotta
1/4 teaspoon dried chile flakes
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
For the sauce:
7 tablespoons butter, divided
1/3 cup plain flour
3 cups good quality beef stock
1/4 cup finely chopped dill or fennel stalks
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
10 ounces sour cream
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 cup fennel fronds or dill sprigs, plus some to serve
1 1/2 cups lingonberry or cherry jam, divided
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Photos by Sarah Tuck