Curly Mustard Greens and Italian Sausage Meatballs

Curly Mustard Greens and Italian Sausage Meatballs

After all of the hustle of Thanksgiving comes to a close, you may reflect on all of the lofty Thanksgiving culinary goals you achieved, you may have already run out of left over turkey, you may be craving something a little more….er….grounded, especially before ramping back up for round 2 of the holiday season. This recipe for Curly Mustard Greens and Italian Sausage Meatballs features spicy curly mustard greens from Green Gate Farms in Austin.

When I tasted these greens raw I knew I wanted to play with the spicy kick at the back of the throat from these fall greens. I thought of substituting spicy greens for the minced parsley that is often added to meatballs. The challenge then became balancing the bitterness, enter Italian sausage.

Curly Mustard Greens and Italian Sausage Meatballs

Curly Mustard Greens and Italian Sausage Meatballs
Curly mustard greens and Italian sausage meatballs mise en place.

In the old days, home cooks often boiled mustard greens to reduce the bitterness. While that is an option, it removes a lot of the wonderful flavor and nutrients in these beautiful greens.

In this recipe, I chose to mince these greens, saute a portion of them in a balsamic vinegar reduction to add directly to the meatballs. I also include a bit of fresh greens minced up in the meatballs to use that great spicy kick as a subtle feature of the dish.

Curly Mustard Greens and Italian Sausage Meatballs
Wilting some of the greens will reduce some of the bitter and spicy flavors.
Curly Mustard Greens and Italian Sausage Meatballs
Reduce vinegar to au sec (nearly dry).

The fat added to the meatballs from the Italian Sausage helps to balance out any bitterness in the greens. I also like to keep these little guys small so that they are only two bites for adults. This also makes them more manageable for little humans to consume.

Curly Mustard Greens and Italian Sausage Meatballs
Form Italian sausage and beef mixture into 1/2″ balls.
Curly Mustard Greens and Italian Sausage Meatballs
Sear meat balls on all sides in batches. Don’t overcrowd the pan!

My 4 year old at 4 of these, even after he noticed the “salad” in them. Between the kiddos and adults popping these little delectable treats like candy, you will most certainly run out, so consider doubling this batch! Serve these with a simple bed of white or wild rice, pene or rotini pasta, or even on a bed of mushroom risotto or cheesy polenta.

Curly Mustard Greens and Italian Sausage Meatballs
Space about 1 inch apart in 9×13″ baking dish.
Curly Mustard Greens and Italian Sausage Meatballs
Top with freshly grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese.
Curly Mustard Greens and Italian Sausage Meatballs
Serve with white rice or pene pasta.

Curly Mustard Greens and Italian Sausage Meatballs

Serves: 4-6
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

  • 1 TBS. bacon fat or butter
  • 1 TBS. Grapeseed oil
  • 1 Garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/4 C. Curly Mustard Greens, minced
  • 1 TSP Kosher salt
  • 1/2 TSP Fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 TSP Red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 C. Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 lb Bulk Italian Sausage, sweet or mild
  • 1/2 lb Lean ground beef
  • 1 Egg
  • 3/4 C. Panko Breadcrumb
  • 1 C. Finely diced tomatoes, canned
  • 1/4 C. Pecorino cheese, grated
  1. Pour tomatoes over bottom of a 9X13″ baking dish. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Heat bacon fat and grapeseed oil in a large skillet over medium heat. In the same pan, saute greens and garlic until wilted. Season with salt and peppers. Add balsamic and simmer until au sec, about 5 minutes. remove from heat and cool.
  3. In a large bowl combine mustard green mixture, sausage, beef, breadcrumb and egg. mix together thoroughly and form into 1/2″ balls.
  4. Sear meatballs in skillet over medium heat on all sides. Transfer to prepared baking dish.
  5. Bake until internal temperature reaches 145, about 15 minutes.
  6. Top with grated pecorino cheese and replace baking dish under hot broiler to  melt the cheese, about 3 minutes. Serve hot with rice or pasta.

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