Instead of a boring tomato, garlic, and basil sauce, I wanted to make something that packed a nice veggie punch. A trip to the store yielded some nice nutritionally rich ingredients.
Before throwing everything into the pot, the ingredients got a little pre-cooking. First in the saute pan - diced baby bella mushrooms. Next the onions and carrots. Finally, minced garlic and spinach.
My grandmother makes a mean meatball - so I stick with her method when making mine. They get thrown into the sauce and soak up the flavors of the sauce.
Hearty Veggie Tomato Sauce and Meatballs
1 bag of spinach leaves
1 medium yellow onion, diced
About 1 cup carrots, diced
1-2 cups mushrooms, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans diced tomatoes (no salt added) - Drained
2 cans diced tomatoes (no salt added) - Not drained
1-2 tablespoons tomato paste
Handful of fresh basil leaves
Salt and Pepper
Turn on the slow cooker to the highest setting (mine is 4 hours - high)
Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat
Add chopped mushrooms and cook for 3-4 minutes, then add to slowcooker
Add more oil if necessary, and then saute onions and carrots for about 5 minutes, then add to slowcooker
Cook the minced garlic for a minute, then add spinach to the pan, cooking until just wilted
Add spinach to the slowcooker
Cover with lid and let simmer
1 pound ground sirloin
About a cup of Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
Salt and Pepper
Mix all ingredients by hand until just combined - do not over mix
Form into 1 inch balls
Add to sauce
When last meatball has been added to the sauce, cook for 1.5 - 2 hours until cooked through
I left the sauce chunky - but if you wanted a smoother consistency you could use an immersion blender to blend it. For the first night, we had the sauce and meatballs the traditional way - over whole wheat spaghetti noodles. On the side - whole wheat garlic bread.
For the second night, I planned to make meatball subs with the rest of the whole wheat bread. What I didn't realize is that the hubby had packed all the remaining meatballs for my lunch that day. So we had delicious veggie sauce subs with melted provolone cheese. Still hearty and tasty - just missing a little protein.
Anyway you want to serve it - this is a great way to add some veggies to your diet and have a great comforting meal!
Stay tuned for some more fall favorites like beef stew and roasted root vegetables. Leave a note about your favorite hearty dish or favorite comfort food!