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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

secret spaghetti and parmesan crusted meatballs

a few weeks ago my 3-year-old surprised me by requesting spaghetti and meatballs for dinner.  my 1st reaction... "that's boring... not to mention a lot of plain carbs and not enough vegetables..."  and my 2nd thought... "unless i fix that problem..."

so here is the skinny bovine's version of spaghetti and meatballs.  there are 4 very tightly packed cups of spinach and 1 whole zucchini in this meal.  that's a whole lot of good for you in a traditionally non veggie-packed meal.   they were the yummiest spaghetti and meatballs our family of 4 has ever had and my kids were none the wiser. 

secret spaghetti and parmesan crusted meatballs
6 servings
1 pound whole wheat spaghetti/linguine
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1/2 pound ground turkey (or all one or the other - it's up to you)
1 egg
1 slice of wheat bread - toasted and turned into crumbs in your blender
1 tablespoon parsley
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon basil
dash pepper
1 medium zucchini, grated
2 tightly packed cups spinach, chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup kraft-style parmesan cheese
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce
2 tightly packed cups spinach, chopped

fresh grated parmesan cheese (optional)

 1.  cook spaghetti according to package directions.  preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
2.  in a sauce pan, heat a dash of olive oil over medium heat.  add onion and garlic.  cook until onion is translucent.  add zucchini and 2 cups spinach and sprinkle with salt.  cook til veggies are soft.  remove from stove and let cool a bit. 
3.  in a large bowl, combine raw meat, egg, bread crumbs, parsley, oregano, basil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a dash of pepper.  stir til combined.  add onion, zucchini, spinach mixture.  stir til combined. 
4.  grease a mini muffin tin.  in a shallow dish, combine parmesan cheese, panko bread crumbs and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  use a small cookie scoop to form meatballs and then roll each meatball in the cheese/crumb mixture, pressing the crumbs into the meatball until well coated.  place each meatball into a slot in the mini muffin tin.  (i made 30 meatballs so i used a whole mini muffin tin + a few slots in a regular muffin tin.)
5.  bake meatballs at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. 
6.  while meatballs are baking, combine a jar of pasta sauce and 2 tightly cups packed spinach, chopped, in a pot.  heat over medium until sauce is hot and spinach is cooked. 
7.  combine spaghetti and sauce, stirring to coat.  dish up servings and top each serving with meatballs.  sprinkle with parmesan cheese if desired. 
8.  smile because you just ate all those veggies in your spaghetti and meatballs.

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healthy cooking on a budget

disclaimer: i don't claim to be an expert on cooking, weight loss or even healthy eating, but i do love to cook, find healthy, taste bud-friendly tricks and most of all, i love to eat!

qualifications: what qualifies me to blog on cooking healthy on a small budget? well, as my husband is still a student, my budget is not what you'd call large. and as for the healthy part, when i was 10 i was diagnosed with pancreatitus - a disease that doesn't effect me much anymore unless i eat food that is too greasy or has too much fat (in which case, well, let's just say i get really sick). this had steered my experience and limited cooking expertise in a health-conscious direction.

please feel free to comment, criticise, rate recipes, try ideas and make requests for future posts!