Every kitchen needs some workhorse recipes.
This Slow Cooker Meatballs and Sauce recipe is mine.
It takes 15 minutes to throw it into the crock pot and we can eat forever. If you are in a hurry, you can just throw jarred sauce into the crock pot, then add the meatballs (this kind is my favorite spaghetti sauce of all time but any sauce will do since it is slow cooking with other flavors and meatballs.) Either way, I love how tender they end up, just like a real Italian restaurant or deli. And you notice there are no breadcrumbs in this recipe, making it totally low carb. If you are so inclined.
But if you have 5 minutes, it is so easy to make this sauce. First you sauté onions, garlic, whatever veggies you like (I used spinach since my kids can’t pick it out and tend to eat it) with tomato paste.
The sauce and the meatballs took me about 15 minutes. I threw it all in the crock pot and at dinner I had this:
I tend to double the recipe to freeze some or use some for subs, but if you do any more the 6 qt. pot can’t hold it (I tried).
Spaghetti is one of my kids favorite dinners, so we have it almost every week. But to make it healthier lately I have been using spaghetti squash for mine (and my husbands who loves to eat low carb). It makes this meal perfect for everyone.
If you have never cooked spaghetti squash before, here is the method I learned a long time ago at Wegman’s (which you might remember me talking about in this post). They actually had a lady demonstrating how to cook spaghetti squash. One more reason I miss them so. You slice it in half and scoop out the seeds. Then you place it in a microwave safe baking dish with about an inch of water. Then throw plastic wrap on top. Cook for 20 minutes.
When it is done, you have this gorgeous squash that has actual strands of squash, just like spaghetti. Blows my mind every time:
I drizzle a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and honestly I could dive right in to this alone:
But it totally can take the place of spaghetti without missing a thing.
So in case you don’t already have a meatball recipe you love (or one for the crock pot!), here you go! Buon Appetito.
Slow Cooker Meatballs with Spaghetti Squash (printer version here):
(Serves 6-8, but doubles easily so freeze half)
For the Sauce:
2-3 T. olive oil
1 yellow onion diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 t. garlic salt + ½ t. pepper
1 can tomato paste (3 oz)
2 cans (28 oz.) crushed tomoatoes
2 t. dried Italian seasoning
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. salt + ¼ t. pepper
crushed red pepper optional (I leave out for my kids and add to mine)
pinch of sugar
For the Meatballs:
1 + ½ lbs. beef/pork/veal mix
½ cup grated Parmesan
3 T. yellow onion, minced
3 garlic cloves minced
2 T. chopped fresh parsley
2 t. salt + ½ pepper
2 Spaghetti Squash, split in half and seeded
Heat oil in large pan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and spinach. Season well with salt and pepper. Cook about 10 minutes until soft. Add the tomato past into the onion and garlic and cook 2-3 minutes. Add mixture to the crock pot with the crushed tomatoes, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, pinch of sugar and salt and pepper.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the bround meat, eggs, Parm, oinion, garlic, parsley and salt and pepper together. Scoop up mixture and roll into a ball the size of a walnut. Carefully drop into the crock pot. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.
Cook on high 4-5 hours or on low 6-8. Taste and season sauce as needed during the last hour. (Note: We ate them after 3 hours and they were still good, but sauce deepens if it cooks longer). Serve with fresh basil and Parmesan.
To cook squash:
Place spaghetti squash in microwave safe pan and add 1 cup water. Cover with plastic wrap and cook for 20 minutes. Alternatively you can roast a whole one at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Let cool before you cut it in half.
Note: I found this on the internet years ago but my printed out copy that I have been using doesn’t have a source and is super worn. So my apologies to whoever provided me with this recipe. Many thanks!