Thursday, June 18, 2009

Magnificent Meatballs

To paraphrase Yogi Berra, my recipe for meatballs comes half from my mom, half from Chef Avram Wiseman and half from my own mind. My recipe is special because it adds pureed raw carrots and onions into the meat mixture, and the sauce includes crushed tomatoes and other vegetables that add flavor, fiber and vitamins but go largely undetected.

This recipe was inspired by my husband, who purports to not like vegetables other than potatoes and will not eat anything that looks like a vegetable if it is not extremely well-disguised. (If you see him, PLEASE do not tell him that tomato sauce is made out of anything natural, okay?) In this recipe, the onions, carrots and crushed tomatoes are invisible (and you can also choose to hide an entire roasted eggplant in the sauce if you want). But the meatballs' moistness and delectability (is that a word?) comes not from eggs as is usual, but from the pureed vegetables themselves. This recipe is very, very good, the meatballs stay together, it makes for a lower cholesterol meal item on Friday night, and you don't miss a thing, I promise. In fact, you may never make meatballs with eggs ever again.

1 pound lean ground beef, veal or turkey
2 tsp hungarian paprika
2 small or one large onion, pureed
2 large peeled or twenty mini-carrots, pureed
oats and/or breadcrumbs, making up just enough to firm up the meatball mixture, about 1 cup.
salt and black pepper, to taste
One large can crushed tomatoes
three large cloves garlic, minced
(optional, one large roasted eggplant, pureed, or just diced small, then simmered at least an hour in the sauce)
two cups marinara sauce

Simmer your marinara with the crushed tomatoes and garlic (and optional pureed roasted eggplant) and add salt and pepper to taste, and combine all your other ingredients and roll into balls. Drop directly into your simmering sauce, and when all the balls are shaped, cover and keep simmering at least one hour. Can be boiled briefly then kept hot on a hot plate or blech until serving time on Friday night. Not recommended for reheating on Shabbat day because no one likes a dry meatball (if they tell you they do, they are lying).

**Dress-up and dress-down hints:

To dress this up to serve for Shabbat company, replace the onions with shallots and garlic sauteed in a small amount of olive oil, and shape into a loaf and serve on a bed of wilted spinach. With the sauce poured over the top, this makes for a very attractive main course item.

To dress down for a weeknight, spice up the sauce a little more by perhaps adding some cayenne or curry powder (which COMPLETELY changes the flavor of the dish, but it's still good) and throw the entire thing over a pound of spaghetti or fettuccini.


  1. You really need to come up with a new name for this dish. When I saw veggie meatballs my first thought was, oh great, tofu balls.

  2. I switched it to magnificent meatballs, Lewis. Thanks for the tip!

  3. To make low carb meatballs for my father, I once crushed up some Fiber One cereal and used that in place of bread crumbs. I called them "Meat Balls A Go-Go.":) And everyone really liked them.