It’s a chilly, blustery day here in Denver with blowing snow. Brrrr. I’m finding every excuse to stand in front of the oven all day, and so far I’ve made a batch of granola and a loaf of banana bread. Before I try my hand at baking whole wheat bread (from the 100 Days of Real Food Cookbook), I’m going to whip up a batch of my Dad’s meatballs. These are among my ultimate cold weather comfort foods.
It’s big sis’s big 5th birthday this week! Which means I get to make her favorite dinner – meatballs!
This is a “24 minute” recipe. Yes, that’s right, in less than the length of time it takes to watch one kid’s show on TV you can prep these meatballs and get them in the oven.
Tonight I used ground pork and ground beef. If you’re feeling really naughty, you can use some sage sausage in there instead. But ground turkey works great, too. Whatever is on sale.
Make sure you defrost the block of chopped frozen spinach in the microwave while you get the kids settled with a puzzle or (24 minute) Dinosaur Train episode. Then you just mix everything in a bowl, form into meatballs, and stick in the oven!
Hidden Spinach Meatballs
Recipe Type: American
These easy meatballs are a quick dinner that can be popped in the oven. A great way to “sneak” some spinach into a carnivore package.
1 box frozen spinach, defrosted (if your kids are the suspicious type, start with 1/2 box)
2 lb ground pork and/or turkey
4 TB dried minced onion
1 tsp garlic powder
1 large egg
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parm
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Squeeze the water out of the defrosted spinach. Add all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Form into about 20 meatballs and place on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil (optional).
Bake for about 20 minutes. For best results, I usually turn them over after about 15 minutes (or when meatballs will cleanly release from sheet) to get more evenly brown.
Serve with sauce of choice, on a bed of greens or with your favorite pasta.
You could of course use fresh minced onion or garlic, but I am going for speed most of the time, and I have found the dried minced onion plumps up well in meatloaf and meatballs (and is less obvious to picky eaters as the onions are tiny and not crunchy).
The hardest “low ingredient” aspect of the recipe is the breadcrumbs.
When I lived in Spain, my host mother would save the heels of the baguettes and let them dry out before grating them into a large tupperware storage container.
That would be a great use of old bread, but I haven’t gotten that organized (yet) … so I still buy breadcrumbs, which feels like a huge rip-off (paying money for stale bread that’s all crumbled up). Sadly most store-bought breadcrumbs have trans fat and preservatives added. So I fall back on my trusty Trader Joe’s option. If you want to DIY, you could start with 100 Days of Food’s recipe.
My daughter loves them, especially with marinara sauce, although I have also been sneaky and pureed sweet potato, spinach, and marinara together to make a more veggie-packed sauce. I hope you and your little ones will enjoy them. They freeze well, too. Do a double batch and put the extras in a large freezer bag … you can pop one or two out at a time and microwave to reheat on a lazy weeknight.