I’m just going to assume Mother Nature has a wicked sense of humor and wants to see how many projects I can come up with for a toddler on yet another snowy day. We’ve read, done arts & crafts, played kitchen, read some more, made messes, cleaned up messes, etc, etc… So what else is left to do but eat? And by eat, I mean delicious, warming, winter-y meatballs. The perfect comfort food on a day like this. Serve over pasta, polenta, rice, next to roasted veggies, or as we did today, over cauliflower mash. The best part? Once the meatballs are cooking in the sauce you can just walk away….for a good 30 minutes. Which in toddler playtime is an eternity.
Meatballs In Tomato Sauce
12 months + up
Makes about 2 dozen 1 ½” meatballs
- 2 lbs. lean ground beef (I used 90%)
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs (use gluten-free if necessary)
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, or more if you like
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 2 boxes (26 oz.) chopped tomatoes or 2 (28 oz.) cans
In a large bowl combine ground beef, ricotta, breadcrumbs, eggs, parsley, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder and salt. Gently mix with your hands until thoroughly combined. Roll the mixture into 1 ½ inch meatballs and set aside.
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large dutch oven. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, dried oregano, basil, salt, pepper and tomato paste; stir until fragrant and combined, about 30 seconds. Add the chopped tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and slowly add meatballs, one by one, making sure they are covered with sauce. Simmer the meatballs, covered, for about 30 minutes or until cooked through and an internal thermometer reaches 165. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes before serving.