meatballs with panko and feta cheese

The first week of August here in Northern Illinois felt more like late September: cool and cloudy with a chance of meatballs. Sorry, I couldn’t resist; it’s the dork in me.

So, needless to say, I made meatballs twice in two weeks. These came out so great the first time that I made them again, though this time with one adjustment: I used plain ground pork and ground sirloin this time. The first round I made them with plain ground pork and Italian sausage, which was all I had on hand at the time (use what you have!). The first round had more of a spicy kick which, if you like spicy meatballs (don’t get me started), is the recommended version. Take your pick.

lola rugula homemade meatballs recipe

homemade garlicky meatballs with panko and feta cheese recipe

  • Approximately 1 pound ground pork
  • Approximately 1 pound ground sirloin (or Italian sausage, if you want a kick)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped vidalia onion (I actually added a couple of scallions from my garden, along with a bit of vidalia that I had in the fridge)
  • 6 large cloves of garlic, minced (I used fresh garlic from my garden, which hasn’t completely dried and is very, very moist still)
  • 2 tablespoons good-quality dried oregano (I dehydrate my own and store it)
  • 1/2 heaping cup finely chopped fresh parsley (again, from my garden…this stuff is loving the cooler temps outside and it’s out of control)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Add pork and beef to bowl and, using your hands, squish it all together about 10 times, to incorporate the two. Throw everything else in and mix well, but don’t over-mix. You want all the ingredients to be well-distributed but don’t overwork your mixture. Place bowl in refrigerator for at least 1 hour to let flavors meld.

Remove from fridge and preheat oven to 350­°

Spray a large baking sheet (lined with foil or parchment, if you want to make clean up easy) with a bit of olive oil. (I have a Misto sprayer that I love, love, love) Form meatball mixture into balls – I like mine big, so this made 14 meatballs for me. If you want smaller ones, decrease the cooking time. Roll the meatballs a bit in the olive oil you sprayed on the pan and then arrange evenly to cook.

Bake meatballs for 20 minutes then, using a pair of tongs, turn them over and cook another 10. Turn over again after 5-10 minutes, and then turn once more after 5-10 minutes. Your total cooking time should be 30-40 minutes. (less if you made smaller meatballs, plus you’ll have to turn them sooner)

That’s it! I know a lot of recipes call for pan-browning them but I find baking them to be less messy, less greasy and more evenly cooked.

Today, it’s finally sunny and warm…well, still not August warm but at least it’s in the high 70’s. Eat well my friends!

14 thoughts on “meatballs with panko and feta cheese

  1. Must try. I like the idea of Italian sausage for a kick. I have not eaten beef for 20 years so that will be great. It will have to cool off a bit here but sooner or later I’ll do it.

    • It was seriously a “make ’em with what I have on hand” day and the Italian sausage and feta worked beautifully – so much flavor! It’s starting to warm up again here, also, so it will be a while before I make them again. (I hope!)

  2. So here I am, trying to get rid of the awful taste of the crock-pot chicken dinner I made, and I see this. Amazing!! (I hate crock-pot dinners and yet I still insist on trying. “Maybe this one won’t have that muddled taste!” It always does.)

    • Are you talking about those “crock-pot in a bag” dinners? Meatballs can be tricky, if you don’t want to end up with dry hockey pucks. The key is to add just enough bread crumbs to act as a binder alongside the eggs but not enough to make them dense and dry. Always err on the lesser side. Same goes for meatloaf. I hope your breakfast was better than your dinner. 🙂

    • I just had some on hand and wanted to use it – thought it’d had a nice moistness to the meatballs and it did! Sometimes these experiments work out well (and sometimes, not so much!)

  3. My French Heaven says:

    They look so light and tasty! I hate when meatballs are all gray inside… Great job!!!

    • Thanks Stephane! I hate gray, hockey puck meatballs. The feta cheese works like a dream – adds a lot of moistness. I love experimenting with food – especially when it turns out well. 🙂

  4. A visual delight as well as an enjoyable recipe packed with flavour. I have to agree with the other bloggers who mentioned the quality of your meat balls…. I too hate gray looking meatballs.
    Have a wonderful week and I hope that you have an enjoyable weekend

    • Lesley at Lola Rugula says:

      I make a lot of different kinds of meatballs and yet these are still my favorite creation out of all of them, Shelley!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I’m going to do this tonight but I’m not going to tell my husband that I did them different. He’s a meatball fanatic but doesn’t like much cheese but I do and I think this is going to make them moist!!!

    • Lesley at Lola Rugula says:

      I love your sneakiness…sometimes we have to do these things! I hope he loves them and good luck – Let me know how it goes!

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