Sunday, January 19, 2014

Hidden Vegetable Meatballs

If you have little ones, or remember being a little one yourself, you know vegetable consumption can be a difficult subject. 

We aren't yet to the "I have an opinion about what I eat" stage with The Bean, but I'm starting to prepare for that eventuality. Which means I'm starting to practice sneaking veggies into the meals that Mr. S and I eat. 

Much to his chagrin. 

He'd happily eat his weight in carrot sticks, kale, spinach, brussels sprouts, and salad greens. He's even recently learned to appreciate cauliflower and asparagus (we roast them). The only veggies he still won't touch are green beans. Everyone has one, I suppose. 

In any case. I've now figured out the easiest way to add veggies to almost any non-veggie main dish we make. It involves this glorious machine:

Using that funny looking circle bladey thing that typically resides at the far back of the cupboard, veggies go from large, "I am not going to eat that" chunks to slivered bits of undetectable nutrition. 


And speaking of triumphs, we've made a few house improvements. A towel bar over the sink in the kitchen and cafe curtains across the front window. The difference those little things make is huge.

Also, The Bean has now joined the Exersaucer set. She loves it. And we love that she loves it. And it lets us all have a bit more time to breathe slowly.

Now to the meatballs into which we will be sneaking our veggies:

Start off with 1 small onion, shredded with the food processor's circle blade.  Saute in olive oil in a large oven-proof pan until slightly golden. If you don't have an oven-proof pan you can use any old pan but you'll need 2 glass baking dishes later. 

Add in garlic, chopped, and the shredded carrots and mushrooms that you put through your food processor. 

Add butter. Cook down until all the water is gone from the mushrooms, about 5 minutes. 

Toss the veggies into a large bowl. Allow to cool. 

Add meat and bread crumbs. Toss around. 

Add salt, pepper, Italian seasoning (or your herb of choice), and eggs. 

Mix it all up lightly with your hands. Dig in there. 

Roll into balls. I like mine golf-ball sized. You could go for baseballs if you like, just bake them longer. 
Use that oven-proof pan again (I didn't even wash mine). Add olive oil and brown off the meat balls. 

Turn them once you see brown rise up about 1/2 way on the meatballs.

 Let cook for another few minutes and then pour over a jar of store-bought marinara sauce. 

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and toss the balls around to wake up the sauce. Cover with parmesan cheese. 

Eat over pasta. 

Or place in containers to eat for lunch during the week. Mmmmm. Meatball sandwiches. 

Hidden Vegetable Meatballs

makes ~60 meatballs

1 small onion, shredded in food processor
olive oil
5-6 cloves garlic, diced
2 c shredded carrots (spout of food processor filled up twice)
2 c shredded mushrooms
2 tbsp butter
2 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 1/2 c bread crumbs
3 eggs
2 tsp salt
pepper to taste
2 tsp Italian seasoning or other herb
2 jars marinara sauce

In a large oven-proof skillet, saute shredded onion in a few glugs of olive oil. Let cook to a golden color. Add in garlic, mushrooms, carrots, and butter. Cook for 5 minutes, until water is released from mushrooms and cooked off.

Dump vegetables in a large bowl. Allow to cool (10-15 minutes). Add in ground beef and bread crumbs. Toss lightly. Add in salt, pepper, herbs, and eggs. Mix with hands until unified. Form into balls. 

Add a bit more oil to your pan and brown off the meatballs over medium heat. When they have a brown color about halfway up, turn them over. Allow to brown for another several minutes. Transfer to a glass baking dish and cover with marinara, or cover with marinara in your oven-proof skillet. Brown up the next batch in a second skillet. Cover with marinara. 

Cover with foil and toss the skillets or pans into a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven, top with parmesan, and serve over pasta or on a sandwich. Or on a fork. No judgement. 

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