Welcome to the fifth and for now also the last part of the bowl recipe series. To wrap up this series, I would like to share another healthy and well-balanced recipe with you, that is ready in 30 minutes and is perfect for meal prepping. The star of today’s recipe is a very creamy polenta made with ricotta cream cheese. It’s served alongside some tangy oven-baked meatballs and last week’s Mediterranean stir-fried vegetables. And of course, I’ll also share some ideas on how to make this recipe meatless. So, without any further ado, let’s dive right into this awesome recipe.jump to recipe
A Healthy and Well-Balanced Weeknight Dinner
My goal always is to cook and share healthy and well-balanced recipes with you. The first part is usually not that hard. If you use mostly healthy and if possible, many unprocessed ingredients, the finished meal usually turns out pretty healthy too.
And as you’re looking through the ingredients for this creamy polenta bowl with meatballs and veggies below, you will notice that most of the ingredient will be classified as both.
But things get a little more complicated when trying to create well-balanced meals. However, by keeping the Plate Method principles in mind, this task becomes so much easier.
Looking at today’s recipe, we will see that about half of the bowl consist of the flavorful Mediterranean stir-fried vegetables. The other half is divided equally between the meatballs and the creamy polenta. This covers the important proteins and carbohydrates.
Furthermore, we also have some fats in this meal thanks to the ground beef, the ricotta cream cheese, and the oil which we used for frying our vegetables.
The given quantities will make up two servings. However, there will be about one serving of meatballs left, which is perfect to eat as a protein packed snack the next few days. Just let them cool of and then store them in an air-tight container in your fridge.
Also, feel free to halve, double, or triple the amounts to cook for several people at once or to prepare this recipe ahead of time.
If you would like a larger portion or one with more or less calories, carbs, proteins or fats, feel free to adjust the amount of carbs and/or protein and fats to your individual needs.
I always base portion sizes on my personal dietary needs (presumably those of the average woman). However, you or perhaps one of your fellow eaters may need more (or less) than I do.
Ingredients for the Meatballs:
- 400 grams or 14 ounces of 95% lean ground beef
- 30 grams or a 1/3 cup of oat flour (alternatively 30 grams of breadcrumbs)
- two small to medium-sized eggs
- dried, frozen, or fresh parsley as well as some salt and pepper
Ingredients for the Mediterranean Stir-Fried Vegetables:
- two small eggplants
- one teaspoon of olive oil
- two stalks of celery
- one shallot
- one of coconut blossom sugar (or brown sugar)
- 300 grams or 10.5 ounces of cherry tomatoes
- 270 grams or 9.5 ounces of crushed tomatoes (In my (not paid or commissioned) opinion, the “crushed tomatoes polpa” from Mutti, is by far the best. But alternatively, you can use crushed tomatoes from another brand). This should be equal to about one and a quarter cup.
- two sprigs of fresh thyme (or dried), pepper.
Ingredients for the Creamy Polenta:
- 470 to 490 milliliters of water (just a little bit less than 2 cup)
- 100 grams of polenta semolina (a little bit less than 2/3 cups)
- two and a half tablespoons of ricotta
Alternatives and Substitutions:
To make this creamy polenta bowl vegetarian, you can use some vegan, store-brought meatballs. Prepare them according to the package instruction and serve them with your creamy polenta and the flavorful vegetables.
If you don’t like celery, you can omit it. Furthermore, you can replace the eggplant with zucchini, or you can add any other vegetables you like.
In addition, you can replace fresh thyme by using the dried version.
Creamy Polenta Bowl with Meatballs and Veggies
Just like in last weeks bowl, the Mediterranean Bowl with Chicken, we will prepare the individual components one after the other. If we start with the meatballs and then continue with the vegetables and polenta, everything will be ready to serve at the same time.
Calorie-Friendly Meatballs Made in the Oven
To make the meatballs, first preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F convection (or 200°C/400°F if you don’t have an convection oven). Then put all the ingredients for the meatballs in a bowl and knead or mix them with your hands or a spoon until they form a homogeneous mixture.
Now form about 18 meatballs of equal size and place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. I prefer to use my medium-sized ice cream scoop with a diameter of 5cm (2 inches) for this task. This way they all have the same baking time, and the mixture is easier to scoop out.
Put the meatballs in the oven for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, you can take care of the other two components.
Mediterranean Stir-Fried Vegetables
Once the meatballs are in the oven, let’s take care of the vegetables. First wash the eggplants and cut off the ends. Next, cut them in half lengthwise once and then halve them lengthwise again. Now cut them into thin slices.
Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan and fry the eggplants for about 5 minutes. Salt them generously and fry them for another three to four minutes.
Meanwhile, wash the celery and tomatoes. Cut the celery stalks in half or thirds lengthwise and cut them into thin strips. Peel the shallot and dice it finely.
Add both to the eggplant and sauté briefly, while you halve the tomatoes and add them to the pan as well. Now reduce the heat to medium, add the sugar and let it caramelize for a minute or two.
At this point you can reduce the heat to low and add the crushed tomatoes. Stir everything well, let it simmer for about 3-5 minutes on low heat, before you add the thyme and season it with salt and pepper.
Creamy Polenta with Ricotta Cream Cheese
While frying your eggplants, you can already start to cook the water for your creamy polenta. Once it’s boiling, you can reduce the heat a bit and stir in the semolina. Let it boil for a few seconds before you remove the saucepan from the stove. Let it sit for a about 6 to ten minutes with the lid closed. Just stir occasionally to make sure that the polenta completely absorbs all the water.
Just bevor serving, stir in the ricotta cream cheese and season the polenta with a little salt. If necessary, you can also add a splash of milk to make it even creamier.
Creamy Polenta Bowl with pan-fried vegetables and meatballs
All three components should be ready at the same time. By now you just must arrange all of them on two bowls or plates. First distribute the vegetables equally, next divide the polenta. Now you can serve it with five to six meatballs on top of each bowl and enjoy.
If you like to make this recipe ahead of time to meal prep it for the week, I recommend to just preparing the meatballs and veggies. The polenta tastes best when it’s made fresh. But since you just need less than 10 minutes to do so, this should not be a problem. ????
I hope you like this delicious recipe for my creamy polenta bowl with meatballs and veggies! If so, make sure to give it a try. If you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to drop them in the comments, or send me a massage via email or Instagram (@julesbalancedrecipes).
And in case, you’ve tried this Mediterranean bowl with chicken, I’d appreciate your comment and rating on this recipe. It’s easy to do via the comments section below this post and it would mean the world to me.
Have fun trying it out and bon appétit,
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Creamy Polenta Bowl with Meatballs and Veggies
- 1 baking tray lined with parchment paper
- 1 mixing bowl
- 1 medium-sized ice-cream-scoop optional
- 1 large, coated pan
- 1 small saucepan with lid
Ingredients for the meatballs*
- 400 g 95% lean ground beef ~14 oz
- 30 g oat flour ~⅓ cup (alternatively 30g of breadcrumbs)
- 2 small to medium-sized eggs
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley dried, frozen or fresh
- salt, pepper
Ingredients for the Mediterranean Stir-Fried Vegetables
- 2 small eggplants **
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 shallot
- 1 tsp coconut blossom sugar (or brown sugar)
- 300 g cherry tomatoes ~10.5 oz
- 270 g crushed tomatoes ~9.5 oz
- 2 springs fresh thyme
Ingredients for the Creamy Polenta
- 470-490 ml water ~2 cups
- 100 g polenta semolina ~⅔ cups
- 2.5 tbsp polenta cream cheese
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F convection (or 200°C/400°F if you don’t have a convection oven). Knead or mix all ingredients for the meatballs with your hands or a spoon to a homogeneous mass.
- Form 18 equal-sized meatballs with a diameter of about 5 cm or 2 inches and place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake them in the oven for about 20 minutes.
Vegetables and Polenta
- Meanwhile, wash the eggplants, cut them into quarters lengthwise and then cut them into thin strips. Heat the oil in a skillet, sauté the eggplant for about 5 minutes. Then salt them generously and fry for another 3 to 4 minutes. At the same time, bring the water for the polenta to a boil.
- Meanwhile, wash the tomatoes and celery, peel the shallot. Cut celery in half lengthwise and finely dice it, also finely dice the shallot, and add both to the pan. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat a bit and stir in the polenta, let it boil for a few seconds, then remove form the stove. Leave to stand for 6 to 10 minutes with the lid closed, stirring occasionally.
- Halve the tomatoes and add them to the pan as well, sauté for about 2 minutes before reducing the heat to medium and adding the sugar. Give it a stir and let it caramelize for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Now reduce the heat to low, add the crushed tomatoes and let it simmer on low for 3-5minutes. Wash and pluck the leaves of the thyme and add it to the pan, season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Stir the ricotta into the polenta and season with salt to taste. If needed add a splash of milk to make it even creamier. Divide the vegetables and the polenta between to bowls and serve each with five or six meatballs on top. Allow the remaining meatballs to cool before transferring them in an air-tight container and store them in the fridge.
- calories: 547 kcal
- fats: 14 g
- carbohydrates: 60 g
- proteins: 39 g