Spring has sprung and so has our schedule. The Bear is wrapping up his last graduate class for his master's degree. He has started slow pitch softball. I am counting down the days for the end of the school year at work, finishing up the never ending pile of paperwork I have as a special education teacher, and attempting to maintain some of my sanity by regularly going to yoga and the gym to work out. I need recipes that can do double duty, save me time, and allow for multi-tasking. My spaghetti and meatballs recipe will do just that.
Introducing meal number one. Meatballs cooked in marinara sauce served over brown rice fettuccine noodles.
And...meal number two. Left over meatballs and sauce made the perfect meatball sub for Monday and Tuesday night dinner. I served the subs with a side of baked zucchini fries which I will save for another post at another time:)
If I had children, I would hope this would be pretty kid and parent friendly. The base of this recipe requires minimal prep and can simmer away in your slow-cooker while you multi-task.
Slow Cooker Meatballs in Marinara
For the meatballs:
1 pound lean ground beef (I used 93% lean)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup egg substitute
For the marinara
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 yellow or white onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 dried bay leaves
2 cans crushed tomatoes
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together the beef, Parmesan, flax seed, garlic, parsley, and egg. Spray a large cookie sheet with non-stick spray or line with parchment paper. Form the beef mixture into 1 inch balls and place on cookie sheet. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the meatballs are lightly browned on the outside.
Meanwhile, heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Swirl the olive oil. Add the butter. When the butter is melted, saute the onions for 5-7 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add the garlic, carrot, and celery. Cook another 5-7 minutes or until the veggies have softened. Remove from heat. Add the veggies to your slow cooker. Add the bay leaves, tomatoes, and meatballs. Stir and cook over low heat for 5-6 hours. Make sure you occasionally stir the sauce so it does not burn around the edges of the slow cooker. Serve over pasta or as a sandwich topper.