This is a great dish! It is one of my son Nicholas' favorite dishes. He calls it "meatball surprise." I ran across it a few years ago when I started my subscription to Clean Eating Magazine. It was one of the first recipes I tried from the magazine and it has definitely become a staple in our home.
This is the best meatball ever! The good thing is that it is extremely easy and requires most ingredients you already have in your pantry.
To begin the recipe, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the spaghetti. Follow the package directions for cooking time (usually 10-12 minutes). If pasta is cooked before the meatballs are ready, you can drain them and put them back in the pot with the lid on to keep them from drying out.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Chop one medium onion and measure out 1 1/4 cup.
Add 2 egg whites, 3/4 cup bread crumbs, 1/2 cup skim milk, and 1 1/4 chopped onion into a mixing bowl.
Combine all of the ingredients before adding the meat. (This insures the meat does not get over mixed which can sometimes cause a firm, compact texture after cooking.) Then add the ground meat. I used ground turkey, and the recipe calls for lean ground sirloin. You can use whatever kind of ground meat you like. I'd like to try ground chicken sometime.
Next take a little less than 1/4 of a cup of the meat mixture and place a cherry tomato inside. Shape the meat into a ball, hiding the tomato inside. Repeat this until you use up all of the ground meat mixture.
Place about 24 meatballs on a sheet pan sprayed with Pam cooking spray. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
While those bake, time for marinara sauce. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan. Place the leftover onion that you chopped and about four garlic cloves and saute for about 8-10 minutes until translucent.
Add two 28-oz cans of diced tomatoes, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and 1 teaspoon dried basil to the sauce. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer until it thickens slightly, about 10 minutes.
Use an immersion blender to blend the mix into a sauce. If you do not have one of these you can use your blender or food processor and mix it in batches. Remember it is HOT sauce! Add freshly chopped basil.
Sauce is ready!
Meatballs are ready!
Add fresh basil to meatballs and pasta.
And to the sauce.
Serve with your favorite veggie. We love green beans, so Hericot Vert it is!
(Fancy talk for French Green Beans)
Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
This recipe is really a winner. If you want to give it a try, you will not be disappointed!