Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In



Sweet & Sour Meatballs with Sesame Vegetables

The meatballs are saucy, so you want to form the parchment into a bowl shape to keep the sauce from running onto the vegetables as they roast together in the same pan.

Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.

4 to 6
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
15 min
45 min


  • 1 lb extra-lean ground beef
  • 5 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup whole-grain bread crumbs
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced, divided
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt, divided
  • 6 heads baby bok choy (about 24 oz), trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • 2 oz shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
  • 1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce, divided
  • 2 tsp safflower oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Pinch red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1 cup jarred unsalted puréed strained tomatoes (aka passata)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 2 tsp potato starch


1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Mist a 13 x 9-inch roasting pan with cooking spray. Line 1 side of pan with a 10-inch length of parchment paper; fold and crumple all 4 edges to make 2-inch-tall rimmed sides, resembling a shallow bowl. (Or use a piece of foil to create a shallow bowl shape on one side of sheet.)

2. In a large bowl, mix together beef, spinach, onions, egg, bread crumbs, half of garlic, ginger, 1/4 tsp black pepper and 1/8 tsp salt. Shape by heaping 1 tbsp into balls. Arrange in a single layer in parchment or foil “bowl.” Bake for 8 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a separate large bowl, toss together bok choy, mushrooms, 1 tbsp soy sauce, safflower oil, sesame oil, pepper flakes (if using) and remaining half of garlic, ¼ tsp black pepper and 1/8 tsp salt. Remove pan from oven; arrange bok choy mixture in single layer on remaining half of pan. Return to oven; bake for 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together tomatoes, vinegar, maple syrup, potato starch and remaining 3 tbsp soy sauce until smooth.

5. Remove pan from oven; pour tomato mixture over meatballs and stir. Stir bok choy mixture. Return to oven; bake until meatballs reach 160°F when tested with an instant-read thermometer in centers, sauce is slightly thickened and vegetables are tender and lightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Divide meatballs and bok choy mixture among plates; drizzle meatballs with any sauce left in parchment.

Tip: Squeeze the thawed spinach in a clean tea towel to remove as much liquid as possible; this gives the meatballs the best texture and flavor.

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size 1/6 of recipe
  • Calories 267
  • Carbohydrate Content 22 g
  • Cholesterol Content 80 mg
  • Fat Content 11 g
  • Fiber Content 4 g
  • Protein Content 21 g
  • Saturated Fat Content 3.5 g
  • Sodium Content 618 mg
  • Sugar Content 11 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat Content 4 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat Content 2 g