The cloudy and cool weather this week has me craving all sorts of comfort food which is odd for this time of year. Summer is usually all about salads and tacos and the grill, but all I could think about today was spaghetti and meatballs.
Meatballs are one of the many meals that I always make a double batch of (meaning twice as much as we actually need for dinner) because I freeze half. They will stay good in the freezer for months and make the perfect weeknight dinner over pasta or as hearty meatball hoagies, both of which I can have ready in under 10 minutes with frozen meatballs. So, this recipe uses three pounds of meat, way more than my family needs, but I put half of the meatballs in a big freezer bag to help out my future self!
This is my mom’s meatball recipe, and my mom is an amazing cook. I adjusted it a little bit because I prefer to steer clear of bread when I can and found that oatmeal instead of bread crumbs would be a much healthier addition. I also decided to use almond milk because I also avoid dairy whenever possible.
A couple of tips when you prepare your meatballs: cut your onions very fine so you don’t have large chunks in the meatballs. Before rolling your meatballs, if the mixture feels too wet, add 1/4 cup more of ground oatmeal. If it feels to dry, add another couple of tablespoons of milk.
Essentially, you just need to add all of your meatball ingredients except the beef to a large mixing bowl and stir until well combined.
Then, add the meat. I use my hands to mix it up. You’re going to have to get them dirty rolling the meatballs anyway.
These should fit onto two large baking sheets and will be ready in about 20 minutes at 375 degrees. Place the meatballs on a large plate lined with paper towels when you remove them from the oven to absorb the excess grease so you don’t end up transferring it to your pot of sauce. Then put the meatballs in your sauce that should be simmering on the stove at this point. Prepare the sauce while your meatballs are in the oven.
I prefer making my own very simple sauce rather than buying store bought in jars. I think it tastes lighter and fresher, and it’s so simple to make. Add your olive oil and minced garlic to a large saucepan and allow to cook for a couple minutes before adding your cans of tomato. You can also add diced onion in with the garlic and olive oil if you would like. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Allow your meatballs to simmer for at least 30 minutes, though I normally let them simmer for about an hour.
Lastly, saute your zucchini noodles in a little bit of olive oil in a medium sized sauce pan. Allow them to get tender, and drain the water from them before plating. Season with salt and pepper.
Spaghetti and meatballs is the ultimate family pleasing dish. My husband LOVED this meal and my one year old was obsessed with the meatballs. He’s very picky about the meat he decides to eat too, but he devoured these. Nobody missed the pasta because we all know that the pasta is just a vessel for the meat and delicious sauce.
And the very best part? Well, we get to have this dinner again in a few weeks, and I don’t even have to cook!!! If you haven’t gotten on the freezer meal train yet, stay tuned. I have so many more freezer friendly meals for you coming soon!
Healthy Italian Meatballs and Spaghetti
3lbs ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, diced fine
1 cup rolled oats (approximately)
1/4 cup almond milk (or any milk you prefer)
3 tbsp parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp italian seasoning
Sauce: (Double for more sauce, I freeze half my meatballs)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
2 cans tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
Salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste to taste
3 large zucchinis cut into noodles with a spiralizer
1. Put rolled oats in a blender or food processor and blend until finely ground. Measure 3/4 cup of the oat flour, and put in a large mixing bowl.
2. Add the diced onion, eggs, almond milk, parmesan, garlic, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Stir with a whisk until well combined.
3. Add beef to the large mixing bowl and use hands to work into the oat and egg mixture. Once fully incorporated, roll into 1 1/2 inch balls and place on baking sheet lined with foil.
4. Bake meatballs at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.
5. While meatballs bake, add olive oil and garlic from sauce ingredients to a large saucepan on medium to high heat. Allow the garlic cook for 2-3 minutes before adding the cans of tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, and turn heat to low.
6. When you remove meatballs from the oven, place on a plate or baking sheet lined with a paper towel to absorb excess grease. Then, place meatballs in the sauce and allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes (I always freeze half of my meatballs so I have an easy dinner for later) so I only add about 15 meatballs to the sauce.
7. Just before serving, saute zucchini noodles for 5-3 minutes over medium to high heat until tender. Season with salt and pepper.