It’s come to my attention that “professional” bloggers celebrate Thanksgiving in September and Christmas in October.
WELL. Obviously I missed the boat on Thanksgiving. But I believe that there are people out there — people like me — people who wait until the very last second to do anything — that have not picked out this year’s Christmas cookies yet.
↑ If this is you ↑, I got your back. Starting Sunday, I’m doing 7 Days of Christmas Cookies. You might want to start a sugar sabbatical now, so your sweet teeth are ready when next week hits.
(Are there any requests? Any cookie recipe you need me to experiment with for you? Let me know. I’ll try!)
Maybe by the time Blogger T’s-giving rolls around next year, I can lump myself in with the professionals. I’ll get double the sausage stuffing, double the pecan pie, and then double the Christmas music, double the vacation time, and… double the presents??
So before I go into Christmas Cookie Overdrive, let me give you this savory, healthy meatball recipe.
Now normally, I’m all about the super easy, 30-minutes-or-less, one-dish dinners. Hand rolling meat into little balls for 30 minutes (okay 20) (okay 10) (maybe 5, but it seemed like it took forever) is not my ideal evening in the kitchen. But sometimes you just want meatballs.
I ate some meatballs at my friend’s house on Halloween, which was more than a month ago, but also kind of happened just yesterday — where does the time go? Is this what my whole life will be like? Always saying, “Wow, that seems like it was just yesterday?” And then suddenly I’m married with kids and teaching them how to cook and before my eyes my daughter grows into an adult and she’s writing her own blog or whatever the young adult writers will be doing in 2044?
Mini-freak out over. But that’s how I decided I needed to make meatballs.
I like these meatballs for all of the following:
- Because they are veggie-filled
- Which makes them colorful and kid-friendly!
- They use super lean ground beef
- And are still moist.
- They are literally fall-apart tender. I mean SPOON ONLY. No toothpicks!
- And they are doused in a healthy amount of homemade marinara. Which is one of my favorite things. I’ve been known to eat Prego with a spoon. Out of the jar. Cold. My meatballs are spicy, but the red pepper flakes are totally optional.
Serving suggestion: Over pasta. But totally OK to eat leftovers straight from the Tupperware container. Dinner anyone?
Veggie and Beef Meatballs Marinara
- 6 teaspoons olive oil divided
- 4 cloves garlic sliced, divided
- 1 28- ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon salt divided
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes divided, optional
- 1 small zucchini roughly chopped
- 1 medium carrot roughly chopped
- 1/2 small yellow onion roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup parsley leaves plus more for garnishing
- 1 pound lean beef I used 94% lean
- 1/2 cup oats I used steel-cut, but you may use quick oats
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan plus more for garnishing
- 1 large egg beaten
Preheat broiler on high. Make sure oven rack is about 4 inches below the heat source. Rub 1 teaspoon olive oil over the surface of a rimmed baking sheet.
In a large sauce pot, heat the remaining 5 teaspoons olive oil over medium heat. Add two cloves of garlic and cook until golden, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoons salt, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (if desired). Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine zucchini, carrot, onion, remaining garlic, and parsley. Pulse until finely chopped. Transfer vegetable mixture to a large bowl. Add the beef, oats, parmesan, remaining salt, remaining red pepper flakes (if desired), and egg. Mix well.
Shape mixture into meatballs 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Arrange evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Broil until the tops of the meatballs are browned, about 5 minutes.
Gently transfer meatballs to the sauce pot and continue to cook, covered, for 10 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through. Remove from heat.
Serve as an appetizer or over cooked spaghetti as a main course. Garnish with additional parsley and parmesan if desired.
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars. I love the flavors and the tenderness and well, for all of reasons 1 through 6 up there. And I did, truly, eat all the leftovers cold from the Tupperware. May or may not have had the fridge door open. And I think that’s my new criteria for a 5-star recipe.
The BBF’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars. Ben thought the texture was perfect, but he would have liked them a little spicier. (What?!?! I could almost not eat them, I added so much red pepper. That’s Ben for ya.) I’ll take it!