Thursday, March 27, 2014

Spinach Meatballs with Cabbage and Tomato Sauce

This recipe was developed in my effort to reduce the amount of refined flour products we eat. My husband is watching his carb intake and, honestly, we all just love cabbage, so it was a natural fit. I grew up on foods like cabbage rolls, meat and rice cooked inside of a cabbage leaf and simmered in tomato sauce. It was a hit. I searched for some meatball recipes that I could bake in the oven. I don't like pan frying them. I found a good recipe on from Alton Brown, but I didn't have the three types of meat, or the bread crumbs, so I took a shot at my own modifications. Worked for us! I hope you enjoy them. Seriously try this with the cabbage instead of spaghetti noodles. You'll be surprised. And for an easy way to add chopped spinach: buy a bag of spinach leaves and put it all in a zipper freezer bag. When it's frozen just squeeze the bag to break up the leaves, stems and all. You can scoop out a cup of spinach already chopped. It's so easy to add spinach to almost anything if you keep some on hand frozen this way.

Spinach Meatballs
3# ground beef, thawed or fresh
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup spinach leaves chopped into small pieces
2 tsp. dried basil
2 tsp. dried parsley
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. oregano leaves
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
3/4 c. crushed graham crackers (yes!)

Heat oven to 400°F. Combine all the ingredients with your hands until well blended. Prepare two cookie sheets by covering with foil and spraying the foil with some pan spray. Using a spring scoop (size 20) form meatballs and arrange 12 each on a pan. Bake about 20 minutes. Remove from pan and carefully add to a crock pot with 1/2 cup beef broth. Heat on low for 3-4 hours.** At mealtime, warm your favorite marinara or spaghetti sauce and add 2 T. minced garlic, 1 tsp. basil, 1 tsp. oregano. Heat. In a large skillet, melt 4 T. of butter and add 1 small head of cabbage cut into ribbons. Saute cabbage until soft. Add salt and pepper to taste. To serve, layer cabbage on plate, place meatballs on top and ladle a bit of sauce on the top. Delish.

** to skip the crockpot part, just bake the meatballs 30-35 minutes or until done.