meatballs

My boys love meatballs.  I’ve made quite a few different recipes over the years and this one ranks up there as one of our favorites.  There are a few reasons for this.  Number one is that there are no onions.  I love onions but for some reason I don’t love the crunch of onions in my meatballs (and neither does my husband.)  Second, there are veggies (carrots and spinach) in the recipe but you cannot taste them at all.  Third, these meatballs are made with 1/2 ground turkey and 1/2 ground beef, making them a little more lean than all beef meatballs.  And finally, I love this recipe because it makes a lot so there are plenty leftover for the freezer.

veggies

The addition of spinach and carrots adds to the nutritional value of the meatballs without affecting the taste.

This recipe makes about 40 meatballs.  Just cook the number of meatballs you need for the meal you are making and then you can freeze the rest, uncooked.  When you are ready to eat them, just pull them out of the freezer to defrost and cook them according to the instructions below.  This recipe can easily be halved if you aren’t interested in freezing some for future dinners.

These meatballs are great served with pasta sauce over whole wheat noodles or another gluten free noodle.  They are also great plain or served with mashed potatoes.  Sometimes we like to mix them with some red sauce and put a small slice of mozzarella cheese on top of each meatball and warm them in the oven until the cheese is bubbly.  There are a lot of ways you could eat them.  But….if you haven’t tried zucchini noodles yet, you really should.  You can find my recipe for zucchini noodles here.  We love to top them with these meatballs and red sauce.

Freezer Friendly Meatballs with Zucchini Noodles
 
Author:
Serves: 40 meatballs
Ingredients
  • Olive oil for greasing baking sheet
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ⅔ cup whole wheat bread crumbs (see Note #1 if you want to make your own bread crumbs)
  • ⅔ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup minced carrots (about 2 carrots)
  • 1 cup packed spinach, chopped into small pieces
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • homemade or store bought pasta sauce for serving (optional)
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese to garnish (optional)
  • fresh basil to garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425º F. Grease a baking sheet or glass dish with olive oil and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, use a spoon (or your hands) to combine all the meatball ingredients. Roll the mixture into golf ball sized meatballs and place the meatballs you plan to cook in rows on the prepared baking sheet/dish. For easy scooping, I always use my mini scoop when making meatballs.
  3. Bake for 9 - 11 minutes, or until the meatballs are brown all the way through.
  4. While the meatballs are baking pour some store bought or homemade spaghetti sauce into a pan and warm over medium heat. (The amount will depend on how many meatballs you are making.)
  5. When meatballs are done cooking, put them into the warmed spaghetti sauce and stir to combine. Keep warm until you are ready to serve. We like to serve them over zucchini noodles.

 

meatball method

Freezing Instructions:

The meatballs you plan to freeze can be placed on a small baking sheet (uncooked) and put in the freezer.  Once frozen, transfer meatballs to a freezer bag. When you are ready to cook the meatballs, pull them out of the freezer to defrost in the fridge. Once defrosted, you can cook according to instructions above.

If you want to go ahead and cook all of the meatballs you can probably freeze them already cooked and then just pull them out and warm them up when you are ready to eat them.  I usually prefer to freeze things uncooked because I think most things taste better when freshly cooked rather than just re-warmed.

meatballs ready for freezer

Notes:

1.  Making homemade breadcrumbs is very easy.  I use about 2-3 pieces of whole wheat bread and let it sit out on the counter until dried out.  I then pulse it in my food processor until fine.  I usually add a little garlic powder and Italian seasoning until fragrant.  That part is totally optional though.  I know a lot of people let their crumbs cook in the oven at a low temperature but I’ve never done that step and I haven’t had any issues.  You can store leftover breadcrumbs in the fridge or freezer.

homemade breadcrumbs

This recipe is adapted from the 100 Days of Real Food Cookbook.  If you don’t have that cookbook yet I can’t recommend it enough.  We love it!

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