Veggie-Loaded Meatballs

I know, that sounds a little oxymoron-ish, doesn’t it? But trust me when I tell you that these here meatballs are the actual bomb. It’s truly amazing how many veggies you can hide in these suckers, yet kids GOBBLE them up like crazy. Bonus points for all the flavor you can pack into such a small package. I usually make a large batch of these, about 3 dozen, cook them all up and then separate into 2-3 large Ziploc freezer bags. Once they are all frozen, it’s easy to take out what you need for a meal and they make great finger foods for older babies and thermos lunches for bigger kids.

Win/win.

Before I list off the recipe for these bad boys, I feel like I should add a disclaimer that I usually eyeball measurements for them, so the ones given are rough estimates. I will also note that my proven method of getting the mixture together is to use my bare hands and get into there myself. So plan to get messy. I hope you enjoy these as much as my family does.

meatballs

Veggie Loaded Meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 1/2lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2lb ground turkey (I’ve also used veal or pork)
  • 1 package regular Italian sausage
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup crushed crackers (get creative! I’ve used sour cream and onion flavored ones or pretzel ones.)
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1/2 orange pepper, diced
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 zucchini, grated (I just use a cheese grater)
  • 1/2 cup carrots, grated
  • 1/4 Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all meats. Using the tip of a sharp knife, slice open the casing of the sausages and remove the raw meat, placing it into the bowl. I use my hands to knead the meats all together.
  3. Add in all remaining ingredients and once again, use your hands to really combine the ingredients. IMPORTANT: Do not over mix! This shouldn’t be a paste when you are done. You should still be able to see pieces of ground meat.
  4. Wash your hands thoroughly, you were just handling raw meat.
  5. Lightly grease two baking sheets with olive oil.
  6. With the mixing bowl on one side, and the baking sheets on the other, begin to form your meatballs. They should be roughly the size of a golf ball, and spread out evenly. Tip: Lightly coat your hands with olive oil before you start rolling the meatballs. This way they will not stick to your hands. I usually keep a small bowl with a bit of olive oil in it off to the side, so I can quickly dip my fingers in and re-lubricate my hands. You will thank me later for this tip, it’s much less messy.
  7. Wash your hands thoroughly, you were just handling raw meat.
  8. Lightly drizzle olive oil over the meatballs. I have been known to top them with mozzarella as well.
  9. Bake on the middle rack for 20-30 minutes, until they are starting to brown on top and are cooked through.
  10. Enjoy!

*If you are planning on freezing some of these, wait until they have cooled completely before packaging them up. To reheat, I usually put them in the microwave for 2 minutes, or you can use the oven.

 

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Comments

  1. 1

    JENNIFER M says

    These sound great! I’m going to make them tomorrow. I discovered about a year ago that you could bake meatballs and I’ve never fried them again! They cook so much more evenly and of course without having to use any oil. And fast! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  2. 2

    Jaime says

    I wonder if I puree just the veggies before adding them to the meat if Jax would eat these. As the recipe stands, I guarantee you that if he sees a fleck of orange pepper or anything that resembles anything other than meat, he’ll say he doesn’t like them, that little bugger! The recipe looks easy enough and so healthy for my veggie-hater. I just have to figure out how to hide the veggies better… Thanks for sharing this! :)

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