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Vegetarian “Meatballs” with Spaghetti

October 17, 2012

Lately, I’ve fallen into a bit of a cooking rut. It’s not that Joe and I have been eating takeout every night, but I haven’t really been cooking anything interesting. Most nights, I find myself falling back on easy staples like roasted veggies, baked chicken breasts for Joe, and some whole grain, such as quinoa, whole wheat pasta or brown rice. Tasty? Sure. But I’ve hardly been pushing myself out of my culinary comfort zone.

This week, I set out on a mission to get back on my cooking game by making our meals from real, actual recipes. Beef stew and biscuits one night, sweet potato and black bean enchiladas another. It’s amazing how putting a little extra effort into meal planning can have incredibly tasty results. But the recipe I was most excited to try was a recipe I found on Cooking Canuck’s site for Cannellini Bean “Meatballs” made with beans, bread crumbs and Italian herbs.

I tweaked the recipe slightly to suit the ingredients I had in my pantry, and added a little bit of grated Parmesan cheese to the mix, too, since I don’t think adding cheese is ever a bad decision. And although Joe was pretty skeptical of the recipe while it was cooking, he was pleasantly surprised with the end product. I don’t think anyone will be fooled into thinking these are actual meatballs, but once they are tossed with marinara sauce and served over whole wheat pasta it creates an incredibly satisfying, flavorful dinner that will keep you full for hours.

We had quite a few leftover “meatballs” and I found that they heat well in the microwave for lunch the next day or dinnertime leftovers. The second time around, I served them alongside a bowl of roasted Brussels sprouts. So tasty!

Vegetarian “Meatballs” with Spaghetti
Inspired by Cooking Canuck’s Bean Balls
*2 1/2 cups canned white beans, drained or cooked dried beans (such as cannellini beans or my new favorite, cranberry beans)
*3 cloves garlic, minced
*1/2 medium yellow onion, grated
*1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
*1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
*1 large egg, lightly beaten
*1/8 cup grated Parmesan cheese
*1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
*1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
*1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
*Whole wheat angel hair pasta (enough to serve 4)

*In the bowl of a food processor, combine the beans and garlic and process with on-off turns until beans are broken up and begin to hold together but are not so processed that they form a paste. Transfer bean mixture to a mixing bowl and add in the onion, Italian seasoning, bread crumbs, egg, Parm, salt and pepper. Stir until well combined.
*Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or lightly grease with nonstick cooking spray. Scoop bean balls by heaping tablespoons and shape into circles with your hands, about 2-inches in diameter. Place balls on the baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown and crisp around the outside. Remove from oven. Toss with warmed marinara sauce and serve atop whole wheat angel hair pasta. Makes 4 servings

Happy Cooking!

Healthier Turkey Meatballs

December 1, 2011

First off, WOW! I’m trilled that so many of you entered the giveaway. Reading what everyone was thankful for was amazing and really pushed me to think more about what I’m thankful for. The winner of the giveaway is Star Van Gelder. Star, please e-mail me ( and I’ll work out the details to get you your knife!

One of Joey’s all-time favorite meals is spaghetti and meatballs. And although I don’t have even an ounce of Italian in me, I do think I make a pretty mean version. Growing up, my favorite meal was when my mom would make what we called porcupine meatballs. They were large meatballs filled with rice and baked in the oven. We actually ate our meatballs with mashed potatoes and steamed veggies instead of atop pasta and it was amazingly delicious.

For the past couple years I’ve been making meatballs simmered in marinara sauce for optimal flavor and to maintain moisture, which is especially important when you are cooking with something leaner such as ground turkey.

Healthier Turkey Meatballs
*2 slices whole wheat bread
*1/3 cup skim or low-fat milk
*1 large egg, lightly beaten
*1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
*1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
*1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
*1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
*1 lb. ground turkey
*1 tablespoon olive oil
*1 (28-ounce) jar tomato-basil marinara sauce or other preferred marinara sauce
*4 to 6 servings whole wheat angel hair pasta, prepared according to package instructions (optional)

*In a large bowl, soak the whole wheat bread in the milk. Crumble up the bread with your fingers into small pieces. Add in the egg, Italian seasoning, Parmesan cheese, salt and black pepper. Stir to combine. Add in the turkey and work mixture together with your hands until evenly combined.
*Form turkey mixture into meatballs, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Set aside.
*In a very large skillet (that has a lid) heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the meatballs to the oil in the pan. Cook about 3 or 4 minutes, flip, and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes on the second side. Meatballs should have a crisp golden crust on both sides. Add the marinara sauce to the pan and bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through and no pink remains.
*Serve atop the whole wheat angel hair pasta. Top with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Happy Cooking!


Meatball Monday and a Giveaway!

March 1, 2010

Without a doubt, Monday is not my favorite day of the week. I almost feel bad for Monday, because it’s probably the most dreaded day of the whole week. So to perk up the week, I’m starting it off with a plate of meatballs and a giveaway!

First up, the meatballs. Blogging, I’ve come to realize, makes you a crazy person. What else would motivate someone to wake up and start making meatballs at 6:30 in the morning? Sure, I could have done this last night before bed, but is it any less crazy to make meatballs at 11 p.m.? By rolling these little bites of happiness in flour before adding them to the skillet, a tip I learned from The Pioneer Woman, you get a great crispy outside. And finishing it off by cooking the meatballs in the skillet with the pasta sauce and red wine imparts tenderness and great flavor the both the meatballs and the sauce.

Second, the giveaway! As a thank you to all my wonderful readers and to start off the week on a good note, I will be giving away a year’s subscription to Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food magazine. If you haven’t checked out this little mag, you should! It’s filled with fun, fast recipes, and the smaller size is perfect for taking along when grocery shopping.

To be entered for a chance to win, send me an e-mail ( with the word ‘Giveaway’ in the subject line and your name in the body of the e-mail by Wednesday, March, 3rd, at 7 p.m. I will randomly select a winner and announce it here on Thursday, so get e-mailing!

*2 slices sandwich bread, ripped into small pieces
*1/4 cup milk

*1 lb. ground meat (turkey, beef, chicken, pork or a combination of your choice)

*1 egg

*2 Tbsp. red wine (may substitute grape juice or chicken/beef broth of desired)

*1 tsp. kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp. regular salt)

*1/4 tsp. black pepper
*1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
*1/4 cup flour

*4 Tbsp. olive oil

*1 (24-oz.) jar pasta sauce

*1 cup red wine (may substitute low-sodium chicken/beef broth if desired)

*In small bowl, mix together bread and milk. Set aside.
*In large bowl, combine ground meat, egg, 2 Tbsp. red wine, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Mix with hands until ingredients are well combined. Form meat mixture into 18-24 balls. Roll each meatball in the 1/4 cup flour to coat.
*In large skillet (choose one that has a lid for later) heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add half the meatballs to skillet and cook, 3 minutes per side or until golden brown on both sides. Remove meatballs from the skillet and transfer to a plate. (Note: meatballs will not be cooked through at this point.) Add 2 Tbsp. more olive oil to skillet and cook remaining meatballs as before. Transfer second batch of meatballs to plate with first half.
*Add pasta sauce and red wine (or broth) to skillet; stir to combine. Add meatballs to skillet. Cover and cook, over medium low heat, 10 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked completely through. Remove from heat. Serve over pasta and top with Parmesan cheese.

Happy Cooking!


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