Friday, August 9, 2013

Roasted Veggie Marinara and Meatballs in the Crockpot

What do you do when you have a garden and fridge full of vegetables that need using ASAP?! You throw them into every recipe you can think of! (Sneaky, sneaky... I know.) So this recipe was born out of necessity. And it far exceeded my expectations! It is delicous. The veggie hating husband (I do not know what the heck is wrong with him!) had no idea and scarfed it up as did the littles. The roasted vegetables lend the marinara a complex flavor that I loved. But you could certainly save a little time on the prep and skip that step too!

And then there is the meatballs. I, for one, hate standing over a hot pan and getting splattered with grease just to have my meatballs disintegrate! Grrr. So I thought I would just plop the meaty balls of goodness into the marinara in a crockpot and see what happens. They were perfection! I wanted to shout it from the rooftops.  But I contained my joy, so I shall share it here with you.

Roasted Veggie Marinara and Meatballs in the Crockpot


The stuff-

  • 1 large can of tomato sauce
  • 1 cup of sliced or baby bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup sliced or baby carrots
  • 1/2 cup broccoli and cauliflower florets
  • 1/2 cup sliced or cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp onion powder- separated
  • 2 tbsp basil, shredded (fresh or dried)- separated
  • 1 lbs lean ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced- separated
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley (fresh or dried)
  • 1/2 cup italian bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup water
  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 1 box whole wheat thin spaghetti
  • 1 large zucchini

What you do-

Turn your oven on broil. Lay vegetables in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Spray with cooking spray, and salt. Toss to coat. Place on top rack under broiler for 10 minutes. Turn vegetables, and put them back under the broiler for 5 minutes until charred.

Allow the veggies to cool a bit then place into blender.

Add the tomato sauce and blend in batches until smooth

Place the marinara sauce in a crockpot on low. Top with 1 tbsp onion powder, 1 clove garlic,1 tbsp basil, and salt/pepper to taste. Allow it to cook for a few hours to meld the flavors.

Start on the meatball mixture once the sauce has gotten hot.

In a bowl, combine the beef, breadcrumbs, parmesan, 1 tbsp onion powder, 1 clove of garlic, water, parsley, and egg. Approx 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper- adjust to your taste.

 I mix it with my hands until it comes together.

Grab little handfuls and form into meatballs. I like mine about ping pong ball size. But whatever floats your boat. Nestle them right into the warm marinara. Cook on low for about 3 hours for ping pong ball size meatballs. Top with 1 tbsp basil ribbons


Now, I do not like to "waste" all of my calories on pasta. Just how I roll. Feel free to wrap your roasted veggie marinara on some whole wheat thin spaghetti. That is how my fam likes theirs. You could leave out the meatball and this would be an amazing vegetarian dish.

I make myself a plate of zucchini noodles. Love them! Makes the dish gluten-free too if you are watching your gluten intake.

Here is how I make mine. First I slice a big zucchini in half. And grab my vegetable peeler.

Starting on the corner edge, I create ribbons of zucchini. I drop them straight into my skillet that has already been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.

Word to the wise- the zucchini will shrink up while sauteeing, so make about 1 and a half times the amount you need. Cook over high heat about 8-10 minutes until it is tender.

Top with your roasted veggie marinara and meatballs. Enjoy!

Nutritional Stats:

Per 4 oz meatballs and 1 cup of veggie marinara and 1 cup of zucchini noodles
  • Calories-411kcal
  • Carbs- 21g
  • Fat- 26g
  • Protein-23g