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.
Date Night Recipes
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)!
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.
Get your shopping lists ready, friends! Here’s what you’ll need to make this recipe at home.
- Ground lamb
- Almond flour
- Lemon zest
- Broccoli rabe, or substitute broccolini
- Pine nuts
- Golden raisins
- Cherry tomatoes
- Fresh parsley
- Olive oil
- Salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes
Making the Recipe
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.
Cook the broccoli rabe until it’s wilted and softened. Like broccoli, it’ll get mushy if you overcook it. Look for bright green color and tender stalks.
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!
Pin it for later:
Italian Lamb Meatballs with Garlicky Broccoli Rabe
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
- 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
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 3 cloves garlic sliced
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
Make the Lamb Meatballs
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- Spoon the meatballs into the simmering tomato mixture and lower the heat.
- 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
- While the meatballs are finishing cooking with the tomatoes, make the broccoli rabe.
- 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).
- Stir in the pine nuts and raisins and saute together for about another 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and enjoy!