Family-Friendly Meatballs & Sauce
By: Therese Bonanni, MS, RDN
Family-Friendly Meatballs & Tomato Sauce
Grass-fed beef contains more anti-inflammatory, brain-boosting omega-3 fat compared to conventional; plus vitamins and minerals important for growth and development such as vitamin B12, choline, iron and zinc—which are difficult to adequately obtain from plant foods. Vitamin C found in tomato sauce is a perfect pairing to increase iron absorption in the body.
Bonus: Parmesan cheese has probiotic properties that nourish the GI tract. For the least amount of additives, buy it in block form and grate your own.
Serve these meatballs on a bed of lentil or chickpea pasta or zucchini noodles.
2 lbs 80% lean grass-fed ground beef
1 1/2 cups 1-2% organic milk
3 tablespoons organic rolled oats
* 1 pasture-raised or omega-3-enriched large egg
3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 lb sweet Italian sausage (you can substitute chicken or turkey sausage), casing removed and broken into 1” pieces
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 26 oz box San Marzano tomato puree 2 (24 oz) bottles pure strained tomatoes such as First Field or Bionaturae brand (or 26 oz box Pomi strained tomatoes)
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon organic sugar (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 325F. Place beef in large mixing bowl and add milk, pushing down to make sure beef is submerged. Layer oats on top of mixture in a single layer to ensure they are coated with milk. Crack egg on top and leave intact. Sprinkle cheese, parsley, garlic powder and black pepper over entire mixture. Let soak at least 15 minutes.
2. Using clean hands, mix meat mixture in a circular motion around the bowl, until just combined. Do not over mix or add salt. Mixture should be very soft and wet.
3. Form meat mixture into 1.5” balls—they will not be perfectly round— and place an inch apart in rows in 9×12” glass or ceramic baking dishes. Bake at 325F 30 to 40 minutes, rotating dishes in oven halfway through cooking time. Use a fork to make sure meatballs are no longer pink in the center to ensure doneness.
1. Place olive oil in stockpot over medium heat. Add sausage pieces and cook about 3 minutes per side or until browned. Add garlic halfway through, stirring to flip sausage until all sides are browned, 2 to 3 more minutes.
2. Stir in San Marzano tomatoes and simmer over very low heat, covered, at least 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
3. Add remaining tomato puree, cheese and black pepper to taste. If sauce tastes acidic, add sugar.
4. Transfer cooked meatballs to sauce pot and simmer until ready to serve.
Makes approximately 30 meatballs
Therese Bonanni, MS, RDN
Therese Bonanni, MS, RDN, is a clinical dietitian and one of the most highly sought-after practitioners in the field. Her work has been featured in top publications such as Women’s Health, Shape Magazine and Prevention Magazine.