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What?! Meatballs in marinara sauce in under 30 minutes? Blasphemy! Well, I’m here to tell you it can be done. It won’t be a leisurely 30 minutes puttering around the kitchen, but it can totally be done if you have a craving and not much time to satisfy it.

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30 Minute Meatballs & Red Sauce (paleo, Whole30)

Quickie Tomato Sauce

1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
1/4 onion
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. granulated garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. + water
1 Tbsp. grass fed butter

In a medium pan over medium heat, add the tomato paste and stir to break it up some. While the pan comes up to temperature, slice the onions wafer thin and halve the cherry tomatoes, dropping each into the pan and stirring as ready. When the paste starts to sizzle (a little scorching here is ok), add the water and spices. Stir to combine, drop the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently and adding water when things get too dry (I ended up adding two batches of 1/4 cup each) about 20 minutes. Add the butter and stir to distribute.

This would be fantastic with wine, but since wine is a Whole30 no-no, I had to forego. If you are using wine, sub in 1/4 c. for half the water in the first addition.

Quickie Meatballs

1/2 lb. grass fed ground beef
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley and basil – the ratio is up to you
1-2 cloves garlic
1 egg (optional)
Salt & pepper

While your sauce is doing its thing and trying to burn (seriously. stir frequently or you will end up with a hot mess), address the meatballs. Break off about a third of the meat and get into a medium pan. Brown, breaking into small bits as you go. Add to a bowl with the rest of the beef, the herbs & garlic which you’ve chopped, salt and pepper. You might want to add an egg, too. I didn’t and my balls were fine; but could have been less dense with an egg. The browned meat helps alleviate some of the denseness as well. Don’t forget to salt & pepper. Form into 6 balls and sautee over medium heat until browned on all sides.

And there you have it – a long lunch/quick dinner meal that’s satisfying, meaty and hits (at least for me) the right ‘comfort’ spot. And obsession button. I got addicted to ‘red gravy’ this past winter and have never looked back. To be fair, my talented DH started this addiction years ago with his spaghetti, but since I don’t eat pasta any more, I’ve been eating meatballs & sauce like they’re going out of style.

Serves 1 for lunch with enough sauce left over for ‘pizza burgers’ the next day.