Italian Lamb Meatballs & Broccoli Rabe (Whole30)

Herby Italian lamb meatballs, cherry tomatoes cooked until they burst, and plenty of garlic, all served beside tender broccoli rabe sautéed with golden raisins, and pine nuts. The richness and flavor in this dish is so unbelievable, it’s almost ridiculous. And guess what else? It’s totally Whole30 and Paleo (and if you leave off the raisins, it’s low carb, too)!

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A long blue serving tray filled with meatballs, burst cherry tomatoes and broccoli rabe.

This Italian lamb meatballs recipe is perfect for date nights in!

These days, our date nights usually look like this: Get the kids to bed a little early, pray they actually stay asleep, then enjoy some adult conversation over a late, quiet meal at home. It’s hardly ever fancy but it sure is special, and I look forward to our cozy at-home date nights all week long.

And the perfect date night (at home) dinner?

It has to be cozy, comforting, and bursting with flavor. I was in Italy recently (you can read a bit about my trip to Verona), and I was so inspired by the dishes we had while we were there! Rich, herby, lightly spicy… that’s all I’ve been thinking of!

This dish is based on a recipe I wrote for the American Lamb Board, inspired by our trip to Italy. We loved it SO MUCH I just had to recreate the flavors… but this time, I made it Whole30 compliant.

A hand is holding a serving spoon and taking some meatballs off the serving tray.

What I love about this dish

These delicious Italian ground lamb meatballs are super delicious, and surprisingly easy to make! Lamb has rich and earthy flavors, made light with a bit of lemon zest and fresh herbs.

The broccoli rabe, oh my!

And you’ve got sweet cherry tomatoes that are cooked until they burst, plus the garlicky broccoli rabe! Broccoli rabe is known for being bitter, and it is just wonderful with golden raisins and pine nuts. Plus is holds up beautifully to the richness in the lamb.

I just love broccoli rabe, though. I grew up eating it and it’s still one of my favorite vegetables of all time. I should probably thank my grandmother for force-feeding it to me as a toddler, because by the time I was 7 or 8, I loved it!

But anyway, this dish is definitely a winner. If you try it, please drop a star rating below and let me know what you think in the comments!

If you like this lamb meatballs recipe, check out some of my other delicious dinners!

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The finished dish plated with the words, "Italian Lamb Meatballs with Broccoli Rabe" for Pinterest.
A long blue serving tray filled with meatballs, burst cherry tomatoes and broccoli rabe.
5 from 1 vote

Italian Lamb Meatballs with Garlicky Broccoli Rabe

These herby lamb meatballs are unbelievably full of flavor! The meatballs are served with cherry tomatoes, and broccoli rabe cooked with golden raisins and pine nuts.

Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Whole30 Dinner
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 people (about 12 meatballs)
Calories 619 kcal


Italian Lamb Meatballs

  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 2 tbsp finely diced onion
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes optional
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Broccoli Rabe

  • 1 large bunch broccoli rabe washed, with large stems removed
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • ½ tsp. Salt

Cherry Tomatoes

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic sliced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt


Make the Lamb Meatballs

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the lamb, lightly beaten eggs, parsley, smashed garlic clove, zest, onion, flour, and seasonings. Mix well, then cover and set aside for about 15 minutes. This allows the almond flour to absorb some of the liquid.

  2. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet. Using your hands or an ice cream scoop, form the mixture into meatballs, about ⅛ cup each. Place them in the hot pan.

  3. Pan fry the meatballs, turning occasionally, until they are browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Set them aside on a large plate and cover while you cook the tomatoes.

Cook the Tomatoes

  1. Meanwhile, using the same skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sautee for about 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and cook together for another 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are softened and beginning to simmer. Season with salt.

  2. Spoon the meatballs into the simmering tomato mixture and lower the heat.

  3. Cover and allow to cook together for about 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the meatballs are cooked through and the tomatoes have burst open (yum!).

Make the Broccoli Rabe

  1. While the meatballs are finishing cooking with the tomatoes, make the broccoli rabe.

  2. In a separate skillet, heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the broccoli rabe and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes (or you can make it go quicker by adding a little water and covering the skillet to steam them).

  3. Stir in the pine nuts and raisins and saute together for about another 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts
Italian Lamb Meatballs with Garlicky Broccoli Rabe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 619 Calories from Fat 441
% Daily Value*
Fat 49g75%
Saturated Fat 15g94%
Cholesterol 188mg63%
Sodium 1257mg55%
Potassium 786mg22%
Carbohydrates 18g6%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 9g10%
Protein 29g58%
Vitamin A 2371IU47%
Vitamin C 42mg51%
Calcium 132mg13%
Iron 5mg28%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.