We’re easing into this next season with one foot in summer flip-flops and the other in stylish fall boots—or perhaps soccer cleats. Whether you have kids in school, sports, and other activities or not, after Labor Day the laid-back vibe of the summer begins to fade and the back-to-it liveliness comes at us in the form of busier schedules. If you want to still cook meals at home, it helps to have recipes for a couple meals you can prep at the same time—like Greek Meatloaf and Chinese Meatball Soup.
For these recipes by Twin Cities chef and cookbook author Robin Asbell, which she created for Real Food, you buy three pounds of ground beef and make two meals in one cooking session. That means you should make the meatloaf and meatballs the day before everybody has soccer practice and meetings, suggests Asbell. Then you can put the meatball soup together effortlessly on the night that you don’t have much time to cook. Since the meatloaf makes eight servings, you can also easily slice the leftovers and pack and freeze for future lunches and dinners. The meatballs can also be frozen for up to two months, then thawed overnight in the fridge to drop in the soup at a later date.
Greek Meatloaf and Chinese Meatball Soup
Makes 8 Servings each
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 large onions, chopped
6 ounces feta cheese
2 cups fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
3 large eggs, divided
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 pounds lean ground beef
¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese, for topping
Meatballs and Soup
¾ cup plain breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
½ teaspoon ground ginger
1 pound lean ground beef
1 quart chicken stock
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
- For the Meatloaf: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two sheet pans with foil and lightly oil foil. Place a 12-inch length of plastic wrap on the counter for forming the meatloaf.
- Spread the canola oil in a large sauté pan and place over medium high heat. Add the onions and stir to coat with oil. Stir frequently until the onions are sizzling, then reduce the heat to medium. Cook for about 10 minutes to soften the onions. Scrape half of the onions into a large bowl and leave the rest in the pan, off the heat (for the meatballs). Let the onions cool.
- In a medium bowl, crumble the feta. Add the chopped spinach, lemon zest, and 1 egg and mix well; reserve.
- To the bowl of cooled onions, add the remaining 2 eggs, oregano, salt, pepper, and breadcrumbs, and mix well. Add 2 pounds of the ground beef, reserving 1 pound for the meatballs. Mix well.
- On the plastic wrap, form a rectangle of meat mixture about 9 inches wide and 10 inches across. Pat gently to make an even layer. Form a line of the feta mixture lengthwise across the center of the rectangle. Use the plastic wrap to pull up the sides of the rectangle to form an even roll around the feta filling. Press the edges together lightly and carefully transfer to a foil lined pan, seam side down. Use your fingertips to smooth any cracks, and tuck any filling back in. Bake for 1 hour, then take out to sprinkle the Parmesan cheese along the top of the meatloaf. Return to the oven for 20 minutes. The meatloaf should register 160°F on an instant read thermometer. Let cool for 15 minutes before slicing.
- For Meatballs: Place the second measure of sautéed onions in a large bowl. Add the breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, and ginger, and mix well. Add the remaining ground beef and mix.
- Form tablespoon-sized balls of the meat mixture and place on the second prepared sheet pan. Bake for 30 minutes, until an instant read thermometer inserted in a meatball registers 160°F. To serve the next day, transfer the meatballs to a storage container and let cool, uncovered, in the refrigerator, then cover and store for up to 3 days.
- For the Soup: Pour the chicken stock into a large pot and place over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and carrots and simmer gently for about 5 minutes, just to soften the carrots to your liking. Add the remaining tablespoon soy sauce. Stir in the meatballs and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Stir in the spinach, just to wilt. Serve hot and with Brown Rice with Scallions and Water Chestnuts, recipe below.
Greek Spinach Salad with Tomatoes
Makes 4 Servings
This simple salad is a perfect companion to your meatloaf, and a touch of dill gives it a hint of Greek flavor.
4 cups fresh spinach, washed and dried
2 large tomatoes, quartered
1 large carrot, shredded
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried dill
½ teaspoon salt
- Arrange the spinach and tomatoes in a large salad bowl, and sprinkle with shredded carrots.
- For the dressing: In a jar, combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, dill, salt, and pepper and shake well to mix. Drizzle over the salad and toss to coat. Serve immediately.
Brown Rice with Scallions and Water Chestnuts
Makes 4 Servings
Brown rice is much more filling and healthy than white rice, so make this when you have 40 minutes to let it cook. This accompaniment is great alongside the Chinese Meatball soup and makes it a complete meal.
1 teaspoon canola oil
4 medium scallions, whites and greens chopped separately
1 cup long-grain brown rice
2 cups water
1 (8-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
- In a 2-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid, warm the canola oil over medium heat. Add the white parts of the scallions and stir until they are softened, about 3 minutes. Add the brown rice and water and bring to a boil over high heat. When boiling, cover tightly and reduce the heat to low.
- Cook for 40 minutes, then check to see if the water is absorbed. The rice will be tender and there will be holes in the surface of the rice in the pot. Fold in the water chestnuts and let stand for 5 minutes, covered, before serving. Sprinkle with scallion greens.
Nutrition info (per serving):
- Greek Meatloaf: CALORIES 345 (162 from fat); FAT 18g (sat. 8g); CHOL 163mg; SODIUM 715mg; CARB 13g; FIBER 1g; PROTEIN 30g
- Chinese Meatball Soup: CALORIES 169 (60 from fat); FAT 7g (sat. 2g); CHOL 36mg; SODIUM 399mg; CARB 12g; FIBER 1g; PROTEIN 15g
- Greek Spinach Salad: CALORIES 138 (94 from fat); FAT 11g (sat. 1g); CHOL 0mg; SODIUM 341mg; CARB 10g; FIBER 3g; PROTEIN 3g
- Brown Rice: CALORIES 226 (23 from fat); FAT 3g (sat. 0g); CHOL 0mg; SODIUM 15mg; CARB 46g; FIBER 4g; PROTEIN 5g