Paleo Meatballs with Spiced Garlic Tomato Sauce


north african meatballs-1.jpg

This is a recipe I made many years ago- a modified NYT recipe to make it paleo and healthier. This winter I’ve been making it a lot and focusing on the little tweaks and additions that make this an all time fav (like only using one pot and finding the perfect balance of spices). While I love the texture of the meatballs (almond flour helps with that!), the part that makes this recipe special is the sauce. Through reduction and a few spices, this tomato sauce is a lot smokier and deeper in flavor compared to your normal tomato sauce. 

Here are my two favorite ways to add in my daily dose of veggies in this meal:

  1. Sneak in some carrots and spinach to the sauce.

  2. Serve with roasted veggies- carrots, green beans, cauliflower, & broccoli are my favorite ones here, but almost any will work!

P.S. This goes great with some rice, since it will soak up the tomato sauce!

Paleo Meatballs with Spiced Garlic Tomato Sauce
Serves 4
Adapted from my old
2015 recipe

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 yellow onion, diced

  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed OR 1 tablespoon roasted garlic

  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 1 tablespoon paprika

  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar or brown sugar

  • 1 tablespoon sumac (optional if you don’t have it- I’ve done it without and it works)

  • 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes

  • 3 cups chicken stock

  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or to taste

  • 2 large handfuls of spinach (optional)

  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds or pine nuts

Beef Meatballs

  • 1/4 cup almond meal

  • 1 pound ground beef (I like to use 90% lean)

  • 1 large egg

  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped OR 1/2 teaspoon ground garlic

  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 2 teaspoons paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add in olive oil and once hot, add in the onions. Saute until onions are brown, about 5 minutes.

  2. Add in garlic and stir for an additional minute.

  3. Add in tomato paste, sumac, paprika, coconut sugar, diced tomatoes, and sea salt. Stir to fully combine. Add in chicken stock and bring to a medium-high heat until it is bubbly rapidly. Reduce to a simmer and let simmer until sauce has thickened and stock has evaporated, about 8-10 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, make the meatballs. In a large bowl, add bison, almond meal, egg, sea salt, and spice mix. Mix well with hands (I like to wear disposable gloves during this) and divide into 12 equally sized balls. Set aside on a baking dish.

  5. Push sauce off to one side in your skillet and lightly add in a bit more oil. Add in meatballs and let sit to brown (about 2 minutes/side; rotate after 2 minutes). Once brown on the outside, stir meatballs with sauce and cover skillet until meatballs are cooked fully through, about 8-10 minutes.

  6. If you are wanting to add spinach, do so at about the 4 minutes mark and just plop it on top! It will steam and then you can stir it in.

  7. Once meatballs are cooked, top with almonds/pine nuts and serve. I like to serve this with roasted veggies and rice.

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