Every August, Fox Island hosts it’s annual community fair. There are no rides or big parades, just the opportunity to listen to some music, share a meal, support local businesses, and connect with neighbors and friends. For years, our Sicilian neighbors sold their meatballs and marinara at the fair, and every year they’d sell out. We’d always arrive early, grab lunch, and buy extra to take home and freeze. This recipe is made with salmon, but when complimented with a good marinara sauce, the texture and flavor take us back to that meal.
These meatballs are one of our favorite ways to mix up pasta night at our house. We like to serve them with spaghetti, a homemade or store bought marinara sauce, and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley. If you’re not a fan of marinara sauce, or don’t have any on hand, they’re also delicious served with pasta, olive oil, Parmesan cheese and/or a little pesto. You can chop and grate all your ingredients until they are very fine, but we prefer the coarser route. Either way works. When all is said and done, it’s difficult to tell you’re serving salmon, which can be a good or a bad thing, depending on who you’re feeding!
We typically prepare this entire recipe at once, cook 9-10 meatballs to feed our family of three, then freeze the remaining uncooked meatballs for evenings when we’re looking for a quick meal. They don’t need thawing, and can be sautéed straight out of the freezer.
Makes 30 medium-sized meatballs
2 pounds salmon meat
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (plus extra for garnish, if using)
1 cup bread crumbs (substitute almond flour or gluten-free bread crumbs, or a mix of the two if you’d like)
1/4 cup plain or greek yogurt
3-4 large garlic cloves, pressed
5 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (plus another 1/4 cup set aside for garnish)
3-4 scallions, chopped
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until combined. Using your hands, form mixture into meatballs about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. On a plate with a sheet of wax paper, set aside any meatballs you’d like to freeze. Place in freezer, uncovered, for at least 2 hours, or overnight. Once firm, remove from plate, add to a tightly-sealed zip-top bag and freeze.
Coat the bottom of a cast-iron skillet with olive oil on medium heat. We love our FINEX skillet, which produces nice, even heat, and provides us with a little bit of extra iron to boot. Once hot, add meatballs. Cook about 1.5 minutes on the first side, then using a pair of tongs, gently turn to the second side. If the meatballs fall apart, they aren’t ready to turn, and may need another minute of cooking time on each side. They shouldn’t be overcooked, just browned on both sides, and cooked enough to hold together. If they’re not quite spherical and less ball-like, that’s perfectly fine!
Add meatballs to pasta and top with remaining 1/4 cup of parsley, Parmesan, and desired sauce. Enjoy!