Light Greek meatballs with sweet potatoes


Great for kids and adults alike, try out these light Greek meatballs

With  family in Greece, one of the first things I usually do when I return is head straight to a taverna for all the food I’ve missed.

One of my favourite dishes since I was a kid was Greek meatballs – there are two types: biftekia and keftedes.

The latter are usually smaller, rolled in flour and flash fried – great for picnics and the like – but biftekia are my favourite.  Made simply using great minced beaf with a couple of binding agents and simple seasoning and then charcoal grilled.

Some tavernas grate some hard cheese like kefalotyri into the mix. It adds more calories than it does flavour though. I tried my version of them with cottage cheese for a while, but that added little flavour at all, so I went back to basics.

In lieu of a grill, I oven-bake mine – and instead of roast potatoes, I use sweet potatoes as a substitute. They provide less calories, more Vitamin A and C, more fibre and less carbs.

Make sure you get the leanest beef possible too – 5 per cent. And get it from a local butcher using regional meat for more flavour and to reduce food miles.

1 onion
10g Gluten Free Breadcrumbs
1 tsp Oregano, dried
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp fresh rosemary
2 tbsp fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic
5 large sweet potatoes
500g lean beef
1 egg


Pre-heat your oven to 220C.

Bind the meat, breadcrumbs (you can use normal ones if you don’t want to be gluten-free), egg, oregano and salt and pepper for taste. You could add a tsp of mustard powder for a bit more zing.

Separate in half, half again and half again to get eight equally sized meatballs.

Peel and cube the sweet potatoes.

Drizzle the olive oil onto a baking tray and place the potatoes, crushed garlic (just skin it and give it a bash with a pestle), thyme and rosemary on the tray. Roll it around so the potatoes get a light covering of oil.

Push the potatoes outwards to make enough room in the middle for the meat balls – add them to the space. Make sure the potatoes are not touching each other – sweet potatoes contain a lot of moisture and if it transfers from one to another, they won’t crisp up.

Place in the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes or until the potatoes are soft in the middle with a light crisp. Turn the meatballs half way and, every so often, open the oven door to release moisture (to keep the spuds crispier).

Serve with Greek salad, tzatziki and Greek-style spinach.

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