Beef, Dinner, Food, Recipes

Sun Dried Tomato Meatballs with Creamy Pesto

I promised folks over on my Facebook page to have this post up yesterday, which obviously did not happen, and for that I apologize.  Darn three kids, two dogs, and one husband, always getting in the way of me and my timely blog posts.  What’s a girl to do….

Anyhow; here I am now, at my computer typing away while my jetlagged children are still asleep so now’s my chance!  However, today’s the day I will make them wake up before 11am so that we get back on track!!! So, wish me luck as I’m sure that my Friday will be a day filled with grumpy Fragoso boys, just in time for my book signing tomorrow at the Coscto in Sacramento!!  Hopefully we’ll all be bright eyed and bushy tailed by then.

Alright, on to the food!  We came home from vacation to a box of Sun Dried Tomatoes, generously given to us by Mooney Farms, creators of Bella Sun Luci products.  Here’s the crazy thing, this huge brand name that I have seen everywhere from the Safeway in Maui to Costco’s around the country, is based right here in little ol’ Chico. I have never tried their products before but I’m so happy to learn more about them.  These folks actually care about the food they produce and everything from their drying process (the tomatoes are actually SUN dried, like the name implies) to their olive oil (no tainted stuff here, this is the real deal, and delicious!)

So with a jar of the Bella Sun Luci Sun Dried Tomatoes with Italian Herbs, I created these yummy meatballs along with a sun dried tomato creamy pesto sauce.  Yes, it’s as good as it sounds…. In fact Rowan was the meatball thief at dinner and we cracked up as he gobbled down his meatballs and swiped John’s last meatball off of his plate. Wish I would have got a picture of that….

Sun Dried Tomato Meatballs with Creamy Pesto

2 lbs ground beef

2 tablespoons minced chives

2 tablespoons minced fresh basil

½ cup minced sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil

2 -3 garlic cloves minced

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon coconut oil

Creamy Pesto

1 cup walnut halves

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

2-3 garlic cloves

½ teaspoon sea salt

2 cups fresh basil leaves

¼ cup sun dried tomatoes

½ cup coconut cream (Chill overnight one 13.5oz can of full fat coconut milk like Native Forest brand and the cream will solidify on the top, scoop this out to measure your 1/2 cup of coconut cream.  Save what’s left for a soup or curry.)

1. Preheat your oven to 375.

2. Mix all of the meatball ingredients together EXCEPT for the coconut oil and shape into golf ball size meatballs.

3. Heat a skillet over medium to medium high heat and add the tablespoon of coconut oil.  Once the oil is melted and the skillet is hot, add the meatballs.  Brown the meatballs on all sides in the hot pan.

4. If your skillet is oven safe, cover it and transfer to the oven and cook for an additional 7-10 minutes.  If the skillet is NOT oven safe, move the meatballs to a large baking dish, cover and cook in the oven for an additional 7-10 minutes.

5. While the meatballs are cooking, prepare the pesto as instructed below.

6. To a food processor or blender add the walnuts, olive oil, garlic, and salt and process until smooth.

7. Add the remaining pesto ingredients and process again until smooth. I promise this pesto does not taste like coconut milk pesto – the coconut cream adds a delicious creaminess that this pesto is asking for; you won’t be disappointed….

To serve, spoon some of the pesto over the meatballs.  I served our meatballs with pesto sauce over some sauteed zucchini.  Delicious!!



Sarah Fragoso

Sarah Fragoso is an international best selling author of 6 books, co-owner of the Chico, CA based gym JS Strength and Conditioning, and founder of the Everyday Paleo franchise. Sarah is the co-host of the popular Sarah and Dr. Brooke Show podcast and she also conducts workshops and retreats on the subjects of nutrition, lifestyle and fitness.

Her message is from the heart and she carries a genuine desire to help other families looking for guidance. These attributes have contributed to her successes and provide the drive to keep the discoveries coming.

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  1. Elizabeth says:

    Oh, Wow! This is going on next week’s menu, for sure. I was just thinking, “What am I going to do with that 1/2 lb of ground beef?” I needed something new and different. This looks perfect! Thanks!

    1. Elizabeth says:

      And we did it! Amazing! Thanks again. 🙂

  2. this looks amazingly delicious! can’t wait to try it!

  3. Yum! Can’t wait to make these.

  4. Ana says:

    This looks great. About how many servings does this make? Thanks!

    1. Sarah says:

      Oops, forgot to add that. Serves 5-6 (3 adults, 2 kids).

  5. Audrey says:

    Yum! Thankyou! I recently discovered sun dried tomatoes, I had never eaten them until I made your Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken Slaw, now I wonder how I lived without them. These meatball are delicious and the pesto is so easy to make. I had never made pesto before, I will be making it often now. This pesto would also be delicous as a veggie dip. I served my meatballs and pesto with sauteed greens (broccoli, spinach, kale and swiss chard) and sweet potato fries. I’m running a 5 mile race tomorrow and I’m sure this meal will improve my performance!

  6. Stacey says:

    I’m allergic to walnuts and other tree nuts, but I can eat almonds. Do you think I could sub the almonds in the pesto? Or do you have another idea? This sounds delicious!

    1. john says:

      The meatballs are great even without the pesto!

    2. john says:

      oh yeah, should be able to substitue almonds just fine. May need to soak the almonds a bit to soften them.

    3. Joanne says:

      I have made many variations of pesto, and almonds don’t process as well, unless maybe you start off with sliced or slivered ones maybe. THey are harder than other nuts.

    4. NergySaver says:

      I have used sunflower seeds in pesto with great success. Also used kale (blanched first in addition to the basil) and the wee ones ate it up. I don’t know why they wouldn’t work with this recipe. I will be trying this recipe out this week myself.

  7. Sun dried tomatoes are the best! Just hadn’t thought of adding them to meatballs. This recipe will be on display this week for sure. Thanks,

  8. heather says:

    I made these last night and they were great! Today I added a little lemon juice to the pesto cream and that was yummy too! Thanks so much!!

  9. Jen says:

    These were awesome !!! Thank you, for the recipe! It really hit the spot

  10. Joanna says:

    Fantastic recipe! Definitely making this again 🙂

  11. Alice says:

    I avoid tomatoes (and all nightshades) because of autoimmune issues. Is there a substitute for the sundried tomatoes that anyone can think of? Thanks so much!

    1. Sarah says:

      How about kalamata olives instead of the tomatoes in the meatballs and then just leave out the sun dried tomatoes in the pesto! : )

      1. Alice says:

        Thanks for the suggestion and everything you do, Sarah! I’m excited to give this recipe a try. I’m sure it will be delicious. I make your walnut pesto all the time. People love it and always want the recipe. You rock!

        1. Sarah says:

          Thank you Alice!!!

  12. Ummm, THESE ARE DELICIOUS Sarah. Thank you soo much for posting this recipe. I’m inspired!

  13. Julie says:

    This looks amazing! I just planted my first garden this year and have fresh basil to use, this recipe looks like a perfect way to use it! Can’t wait to try it!

    On a completely different track Sarah (I wasn’t sure where else to ask this question), I had to have my gall-bladder removed a few weeks ago. I had been doing really well on Paleo and “fell off the wagon” so to speak a few months ago, which I believe led to the reappearance of my gall-bladder problems. Do you have any suggestions for me where Paleo is concerened? Do I need anything extra now that my gall-bladder is gone? I am so deteremined to get back to feeling GREAT (which means, I am deteremined to get back on a strictly Paleo eating plan), but some of the veggies I have been eating have given me some diffiulties. Any suggestions? I would be honored and so appreciative if you had any suggestions for me!

    Thanks a bunch!

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Julie,
      Here’s an awesome article on Paleo Parents that will help you with your gallbladder question!!

  14. Jessica says:

    I have tried to live a Paleo lifestyle for the last 6 months…but I have never fully pushed it on my kids. Recently, my son and my baby were diagnosed with a wheat and dairy intolerance. I am trying to find delicious meals for my son (8) and this one hit the spot! He loved every bite! I can’t wait to try more of your recipes!

  15. Ann says:

    My belly is happy! Thank you for a fab recipe! They are really good over julienne squash:)

  16. Pamela says:

    SO frustrated. Wanted to make this – it looks great. Looked up the coconut milk it called for and the website said they carry it at sprouts. Drove 30 min to the nearest sprouts and they don’t carry it! In fact, I didn’t see any coconut milk in a can like that in the store. Now wondering if I need to order it on-line and pay for shipping – I hate to pay shipping for food when I would like to just go get it. I am really trying to be Paleo – you would think finding “real” food would be much easier than it is! I will keep trying until I find this because I really want to make this dish!

    1. Kristy of Kendallville says:

      Hey Pamela —
      You can use any full-fat coconut milk (“full fat” just means that it’s not branded as “light” coconut milk, like the Trader Joe’s brand, nor is it the coconut milk you would drink, like the So Delicious brand). Out here in SoCal, regular grocery stores like Albertson’s and Von’s carry full-fat coconut milk (check the Asian section), but the cheapest place I have found to buy it is the local Asian/International food market. It usually runs ~$2/can, and for this dairy-free family, it’s totally worth it!

      Hope this helps a little.. Good luck! 🙂

    2. You can buy that exact brand of canned coconut milk from and get free shipping (just need to buy $25 worth of stuff, and Amazon carries so many great Paleo ingredients it isn’t hard to find $25 worth!). You get a case of them but I always end up using them up pretty quickly, especially with recipes like these! 🙂

  17. Pamela says:

    I just checked on buying it on-line and shipping costs half again as much as the order!

  18. I made this last night, and it might be the best dish I’ve ever made! Thank you so much! I did sub out the walnuts for pistachios because I’m not a fan of walnuts, and the pesto was sublime.

  19. These look magnificent! I love pesto (although don’t use pine nuts OR walnuts–interesting to try!), too, so it’s a double-yummy idea.

  20. Gayla says:

    These meatballs are the bomb!!

  21. Crystal says:

    My husband loved this recipe. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  22. Dave J. says:

    Excellent! I made these with ground turkey. The meatballs didn’t even need the pesto. Thank you for the post! This one’s a winner.

  23. kevkn tanner says:

    Ive only been paleolithic a month, but this is by far the best recipe ive tried and was easy to make as well. Thanks and I look forward to your cookbook arriving at my door.

  24. Lisa says:

    Adding the coconut cream was the true kicker! I only had ‘lite’ coconut milk on hand, but I was still able to use the cream that rose to the surface, it just wasn’t ‘solid’ when I scooped it out. Worked just fine. Now I have a big jar of creamy pesto in my fridge for use on other dishes! I can see a pesto chicken recipe in my near future!
    Thanks for the great website and recipe ideas!

  25. Barb says:

    This recipe looks great and I love making meatballs so will give this a try. I’m a bit confused because the ingredient list for the pesto shows olive oil but the directions (#6) say to combine tomatoes and olives. I’m thinking that you meant olive oil.

    1. Sarah says:

      Yes, I meant to type olive oil but accidentally typed “olives” for some strange reason… Fixed now, sorry about that!

  26. BettyK says:

    OMG this was delicious! and not a lot of work either. We had it with some zucchini “noodles” pan fried with a little ghee, I also added about 1/2c of finely chopped spinach to the meatball mixture (just to get a little more veggies in the kiddos)- excellent!! The pesto sauce was creamy and not at all ‘coconutty’, we’ll definitely be making these again

  27. Oh my goodness…..I am new to paleo, and this is the best recipe I’ve tried yet!! My two-year-old daughter keeps saying “More meatballs Mommy!!” I love that she loves good, healthy food!!

  28. And I substituted almonds for the walnuts since I’m allergic….delicious!!

  29. I’ve noticed a product by Let’s Do Organic. It’s creamed coconut in a box. Could this be used in place of the Native Forest solidified cream? I imagine it will serve the same purpose but wanted to be sure.
    Also, I got my books yesterday and love, love, love them. Thanks for being awesome Sarah!!!

  30. Beth W. says:

    I made these tonight and they were devoured by all of us – including my 3 year old and 14 month old. I can’t remember the last time they both ate so much at one meal! This is a hit with our family. I didn’t have fresh basil, so I used dried in the meatballs and spinach in the pesto.

  31. Maggie says:

    This are the best meatballs I have ever had!!! My husband loved them! 🙂 I cooked them last night for dinner it was great! Delicious!!!

  32. Made these for dinner last night. They tasted “restaurant-good.” Delicious! Can’t wait to eat the leftovers all week (we always make more that we can eat at once; that’s how we make Paleo work in our everyday, hectic life).

  33. I just made these and they were awesome! I have a couple of Qs:
    1) How long can I store the pesto in the fridge? (I have a lot left)
    2) How much pesto would you consider a serving? I know it’s all paleo, but I don’t want to over do it because I am trying to loose weight.

    Next time, I’m going to make the meatballs with a mix of beef/pork, and I might add some pine nuts.

    Thanks for this great recipe!

  34. Shannon Harrison says:

    Hi Sarah! I met you last weekend in Kirkland. I’m loving the new cookbook. So we are back in Seattle for thanksgiving weekend, staying with non Paleo friends and they asked me to cook a meal for them tonight for dinner. I was so excited but also a bit panicked because all my Paleo cookbooks are at home in Coeur d Alene, Id. So I got on the EP site and started searching. Found the sun dried tomato meatballs with pesto and ran to the store. I decided to use spaghetti squash with our meatballs. What a hit! They loved them! And I also made Johns friuit dip, also yummy! Thanks so much for all the great ideas! Keep cooking & posting.
    Many blessings, Shannon

  35. we just made these, and my husband, who has been on a really restricted diet for Crohn’s for the last several months, said, “this tastes like really good restaurant food.” He could not stop gushing over the meatballs and pesto (we served it over spaghetti squash). I haven’t heard him so happy about food for months–thank you!

    1. Hurray! So great to hear, thank you!!

  36. Marni G says:

    Wow. Soooo yummy! I loved the flavor of the pesto and the sundried tomatoes – so great. Served with spaghetti squash. Definitely will make this again. Thank you.

    1. Sarah says:

      Awesome, so glad you liked it!!

  37. Johnna says:

    Would be okay to make the pesto ahead of time, and how long would it keep in the fridge?

  38. Mallory says:

    This was wonderful! I didn’t have any coconut milk at the time and made it without – still great. Thanks so much! I love your website, and I am listening to your pod cast for the first time right now; it’s awesome!
    – new fan

    1. Sarah says:

      So glad you enjoyed it : )

  39. I turned this into a meatloaf (so I could just stick it in the oven and go work out at the Y while my husband stayed home with the kiddos) topped with the pesto and bacon (before baking) and it was INCREDIBLE. I also did 1 lb beef/ 1lb sausage because it is what I had on hand. Yuummmmers. Thank you so much!

  40. Karen says:

    I’m eating these meatballs as I write this comment. This dish it to die for. Love me some homeade pesto and your recipe is outstanding!

  41. Melody says:

    I really enjoyed the meatballs; the sun-dried tomatoes added a sweet & tangy kick of flavor, really good & clever idea! The pesto tasted authentic but I’m not really a pesto lover, only because it’s a little too rich for my stomach. I think next time I will make these meatballs with tomato sauce instead! Easy recipe. 🙂

  42. Rebecca says:

    I was wondering could you freeze these? If so would it be better to freeze before or after you cook them? Also how long can you keep the pesto sauce refrigerated?

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