I needed to figure out something to do with the other pound of ground beef we bought this weekend. I happened to be sitting on the couch while meal planning and was flipping through a recent edition of Parents magazine where they had a spread on various meatball concoctions. The fajita meatballs sounded like something that would fly in my household so I proceeded. They were super fast to make! I had them prepped and ready to bake well before Ground Beef the first way, the Cottage Pie, was even out of the oven.
In my mini Cuisinart food processor, which by the way, is a really useful appliance and for small things saves a lot of time over dragging out the full sized Cuisanart, I chopped up half a green bell pepper and half a yellow bell pepper. Altogether I had about a cup of chopped pepper, the specific color doesn’t really matter, those were just what I had on hand. I also chopped up about a third of a red onion and then tortilla chips, to end up with half a cup of finely chopped tortilla chips. The tortilla chips are subbing in for the typical breadcrumbs in this meatball recipe. If you don’t have a food processor, you can chop the veggies by hand and put the tortilla chips in a ziplock bag and crush them with a rolling pin or something.
I combined the peppers, onion, and tortilla chips in a medium bowl and added a pound of ground beef, a teaspoon of chili powder, an egg, and a little bit of freshly ground pepper. I mixed them together by hand and formed them into a dozen meatballs.
I placed the meatballs, touching each other, in an 8×8 baking dish that I had coated with a tablespoon of olive oil and baked at 450F for 30 minutes, until they were cooked through, without any pink.
I think these meatballs have a lot of potential but as I made them, lacked a bit in flavor. Next time I would add more seasoning, possibly a fajita or taco spice blend. Also, I would have liked to have drizzled a little salsa on top to add some color and moisture. I plan to try them again sometime soon and will update when I do.
UPDATED December 6, 2013: Made these meatballs again tonight and with a little tweaking they were SO much better! I’ll edit the recipe below the reflect the new and improved Fajita Meatballs but in short, this time I used half a red and half a yellow bell pepper and blue corn chips (neither of those changes were really critical, just what I had on hand). The main change was that I added 1 1/2 teaspoons of fajita seasoning which made all the difference. You can use pre-mixed/store bought fajita seasoning or you can make your own. My husband made a bunch of fajita seasoning a while back so I just used that. Success! Easy, relatively quick (at least the hands-on part), and kid friendly meal.
Fajita Meatballs (adapted with minimal changes from Parents magazine, November 2013)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped bell pepper (any combination of colors is fine)
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped tortilla chips
1 pound ground beef (I used 93% lean)
1 teaspoon chili powder
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons fajita seasoning
salsa and tortilla chips, for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 450F. Coat an 8×8 baking pan with the olive oil.
2. Finely chop, by hand or food processor, bell pepper to equal 1 cup, and red onion to equal 1/3 cup. Then crush tortilla chips to equal 1/2 cup.
3. Add the pepper, onion, and tortilla chip crumbs to a medium bowl. Combine with the ground beef, egg, chili powder, ground black pepper, and fajita seasoning.
4. Form into 12 meatballs.
5. Place the meatballs in an 8×8 baking pan. They will be touching each other.
6. Bake for 25-30 minutes until they are full cooked through. Serve with tortilla chips and salsa.