Healthy baked meatballs with spinach is an easy semi-homemade dinner that can be modified to feed 2 to 10. Dinner can be so daunting after a long day of work, but oh so rewarding when compared to the alternative. I am all about saving time in the kitchen, so I don’t mind cutting corners here and there. I have a lot going on with school, work, and blogging- so while making my own sauce and pasta would be swell- it ain’t happening right now.
This recipe is for freshly made meatballs- healthily baked, mixed with an entire bag of fresh chopped spinach, and a store-bought light alfredo sauce with some added seasoning. I think the fresh bread crumbs are an absolute must here. I happened to have a two-day old egg knot roll from Publix that I tossed in the food processor . Really any bread will do- even regular whole wheat sandwich bread. The fresh spinach adds healthy antioxidants and that bright green which pops out on the plate. I baked the healthy meatballs till they were just cooked- you don’t want to overdo it since they’ll bake again with the pasta.
Regular store-bought light alfredo sauce is given a little love with dried Italian seasoning and some nutmeg. I used part-skim mozzarella on top and baked the meatballs and spinach topped with cheese to a delicious golden brown. I think this would also taste great tossed together and sprinkled with parmesan reggiano cheese for a nice bite. Bring dinner back!
Baked Meatballs with Spinach
1 lb ground beef or a mix of beef and pork sausage
Approx. heaping ½ cup fresh bread crumbs
1 onion 4-5 garlic cloves
¼ cup parsley roughly chopped
¼ tsp ground oregano
¼ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp salt
For the Sauce:
1 bag fresh spinach
1 container spaghetti
Light Alfredo Sauce
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp Italian seasoning
1 cup Mozzarella Cheese
Preheat your oven to 400F. Put the beef and pork in a large stainless steel bowl. In a food processor, place torn day old or stale bread into the processor first. If you pulsed the onion and garlic first, the container would be wet and the bread crumbs would stick, so logically- bread first! Place the bread crumbs in the bowl with the meat. Chop onion and garlic in the Cuisinart Food Processor. Add chopped parsley, oregano, red pepper flakes, pepper, salt, and the egg. Mix ingredients and form into meatballs of your size preference; place on parchment paper. Bake for 20 minutes.
Boil well-salted water for pasta with a splash of olive oil. Place entire bag of fresh spinach in a colander. When the water is about to boil place the colander of spinach in the hot water and stir lightly till spinach is blanched. I’m all about saving time, and flash cooking the spinach in the colander is brilliant because then you don’t have to fish the spinach out of the water! Press a large wooden spoon against the spinach to remove excess water. Set aside till cool and finely chop, draining off any excess water.
Put pasta in the same boiling water with the same wooden spoon across the top vertically (I swear this prevents the water from boiling over!!). Boil pasta as directed; drain in colander. Put pasta, chopped spinach, sauce, and meatballs in the large pot and mix. Pour into cast iron skillet and top with cheese. Bake at 400F for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and golden; garnish the baked meatballs with chopped basil and enjoy!