beef & chard meatballs

Super moist and tender.  Who knew we just had to add some sauteed greens to our meatballs.  Here’s the best part  …the kids won’t even know they’re eating some veggies with their spaghetti and meatballs.  


The chopped chard is sauteed with the onion and garlic until it is tender and flavorful.  Once cooled, it is mixed in with the rest of the meatball ingredients.

A word or two of caution …don’t get too crazy with the seasoning.  Mario Batali recommends using a full teaspoon of red pepper flakes in this recipe.  He really does like to give his food a kick, right?  I used a half teaspoon and it was more than enough.  For some folks, maybe even that would be too much.  I would recommend using just a quarter teaspoon or eliminate it totally.  Especially when serving to young children.

And as far as the breadcrumbs are concerned, Mario instructs us to toast them first.  It definitely adds a pronounced toasty flavor to the final dish.  I prefer not to toast my breadcrumbs so that the flavor of the swiss chard can shine through.

The formed meatballs are baked in the oven then simmered in your favorite sauce.

beef & chard meatballs

Adapted from Mario Batali's America Farm to Table

Light & flavorful

Servings 28 golf ball-size meatballs


  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, halved & cut into 1/3" thick slices
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 pound trimmed swiss chard, stems and leaves cut into 1/4 inch thick pieces
  • 2 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound mild chicken sausage, removed from casing and broken into pieces
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and grated
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 475°F.

  2. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Stir in the onion and garlic.  Add the swiss chard and season with salt.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes, or until the chard softens.

  3. Uncover the chard.  Stir and cook for 8 to 9 minutes longer until chard is very tender.  Set aside to cool.  Chop well then place between two plates to press out any excess moisture.

  4. In a large bowl, combine the swiss chard along with the remaining ingredients.  Mix lightly until just combined.  

  5. Form into golf ball-size meatballs and place in a shallow casserole dish.  Roast meatballs until dark golden brown, about 15 minutes.  

  6. Simmer baked meatballs in marinara or tomato sauce for about 45 minutes.  Serve with your favorite pasta.

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