Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs with Veggie Marinara

It’s Tuesday, y’all! Time for Delish Delights. I’ve got a great recipe this week for you. Do you struggle with getting your kids to eat healthy foods? With these Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs with Veggie Marinara it won’t be a problem. The marinara sauce is packed with healthy veggies. Your kids with think it is just a regular red sauce!

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Ingredients for the Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground turkey or ground beef
  • Fresh mozzarella balls – check the cheese case in the deli section of your grocery store.
  • 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Ingredients for the Veggie Marinara:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 4 cups diced veggies (I used carrots, zucchini, and squash)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 large cans of diced tomatoes
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 large bay leaf

Directions:

  1. First start on the veggie sauce as it needs to simmer (at minimum) for 2-3 hours. You could also cook the veggies on the stove and transfer to a slow cooker. Set it on low and let it simmer all day.
  2. Heat the olive oil and butter in a dutch oven over medium high heat. Add onion and cook until soft.
  3. Add veggies and cook until soft.
  4. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant.
  5. Stir in tomato paste and red wine. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  6. Stir in the diced tomatoes, brown sugar, and spices. Add in the bay leaf.
  7. Turn burner to low and simmer for at least 2-3 hours and up to 6 hours.
  8. About an hour before you plan to serve your meal, get started on your meatballs. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  9. Combine ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, and spices in a bowl and mix with your hands.
  10. Form meatballs into small balls. Grab a mozzarella ball and push into the center of the ball, pushing the meat mixture up and around the cheese.
  11. Place the meatball onto a jelly pan. Cook in the oven for 8-10 minutes. At the 8-10 minute mark, pull out the pan and turn the meatballs. Cook an additional 8-10 minutes, carefully watching to make sure the meatballs do not burn.
  12. While the meatballs are in the oven, finish your veggie sauce. Pull out the bay leaf.
  13. With an immersion blender (you could also transfer to your blender), pulse the mixture until smooth. This is the important part – you want to hide the veggies, so make sure your sauce is as smooth as possible.
  14. Add the cooked meatballs to the sauce and simmer 20-30 minutes.
  15. Serve sauce on top of the pasta of your choice.

You could also pan fry your meatballs, but I prefer to cook mine in the oven.

This makes a ton of sauce! I packed it into zip lock bags and froze for later use.

Tip: when making jarred spaghetti sauce, add a baby food container of carrots and a tablespoon of sugar for homemade taste.

The recipe for the Veggie Marinara was inspired by the Slow Simmer Vegetable Spaghetti Sauce at Elefantitas Alegres.

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