gluten and dairy free meatballs in sauce

 paleo meatballs
 gluten free meatballs
 paleo meatballs

I first published this recipe early in my blogging. The photos were painful to look at and I felt it was time for a do-over. The recipe is intact - nothing has changed, but the photography needed a facelift. That's the nice thing about growth, things change, I change...

But let's talk meatballs in sauce. If I have just one recipe that's made frequently in my house, it's this one. Some people find making sauce intimidating but for me, it's an opportunity to hang close to the stove, glass of wine in hand and enjoy the slow rhythm. The ingredients for it are simple and require hardly any work. Cutting onion and garlic, chopping basil and opening cans is the extent of it. The only effort is stirring the sauce once in a while to prevent it from sticking. 

The meatballs themselves require a meager tossing of ingredients in a bowl, mixing and rolling them out. Making this dish from beginning to end will take about 2 hours. For me, making meatballs in sauce is always special. Don't get me wrong, I love quick to do meals but once in a while I truly enjoy hovering around the stove for some time and getting lost in the process. 

meatballs 2 (1 of 1).jpg
  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: 1.5-2 hours
  • Serves 8


For the Meatballs:

  • 1lb grass fed beef
  • 3/4 cup almond flour (I use this one)
  • 2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley finely chopped or 1 tbsp dry
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce 
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  •  1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 beaten egg

For the Sauce:

  • one large onion
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 28 oz cans whole peeled tomatoes crushed by hand
  • 1/2 cup Chianti or red wine of your choice (not sweet)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil plus extra for the end
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt divided
  • 1-2 tsp sugar (skip if strict paleo or whole 30)


Heat a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add olive oil and onion and saute until translucent. Add 1/2 tsp of salt to sweat the onion. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds, add the wine and deglaze. Next, break the tomatoes with your hands as you add them to the pot and include the juices as well. Add the sugar, rest of the salt, pepper, oregano, basil and bay leaf. Simmer for 1.5 hours. Stir occasionally, while breaking up the tomatoes with a slotted spoon.

While the sauce is simmering, get to work on the meatballs. 

For the almonds, I used my NutriBullet to pulverize them or you can use a food processor. Almond meal will be even quicker if you want to skip grinding your own. Combine all meatball ingredients without overworking the meat. Form into 1" meatballs. Next add the tomato paste and nestle the meatballs in the sauce and simmer for an additional 30 minutes.

Finish with additional fresh basil. Serve over top of zoodles or gluten free pasta of your choice.