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Meatball and Mozzarella Bake

The following recipe and photos were provided by Sally Roeckell of Table and Dish and were originally published at 365Barrington.com

Eating clean foods with less pesticides and processing is a great way to improve your overall diet. Also, adding as many plants into our menus as possible adds fiber, nutrients and efficient fuel for our bodies.

Today I am making a classic spaghetti dish with a little twist. My husband is a New Yorker at his core. One of his favorite meals is a good meatball sandwich. Yep, he’s easy to please. So today, I’m adding plenty of veggies to my tomato sauce and baking my meatballs in it.  The kids will want it served with pasta but if I know my husband, he will be happy to scoop up those cheesy meatballs with a piece of crusty bread.

If you like spicy food, this dish is easy to convert into a twist on a classic Shakshuka. Simply add the heat of a good harissa paste or powder and sunny side up eggs during the last few minutes of cooking.

Interested in making this recipe? Order the ingredients online for Curbside Grocery Pickup or Delivery.

Meatball and Mozzarella Pan Bake
Meatball and Mozzarella Bake
Cook time:
50min
Prep time:
20min
Total time:
70min

Servings:
8

Ingredients

For the Bake

  • 2 organic onions, small diced
  • Olive oil for frying
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 14.5 oz. cans Heinen's organic chopped tomatoes
  • 2 28 oz. cans Heinen's organic crushed tomatoes
  • 1-2 cups Heinen's organic frozen kale, chopped small
  • 1-2 cups Heinen's organic frozen spinach, chopped small and divided
  • 1 cup Heinen's organic frozen carrots chopped small
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 lbs. Heinen's organic ground beef
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 egg
  • 8 oz. grated mozzarella
  • 4 oz. mascarpone cheese

For Serving

  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Fresh oregano leaves
  • Crusty bread, pasta or rice
  • Salad with organic salad dressing

Instructions

  1. Put the onions and 2 Tbsp. oil in a large frying pan and fry gently until softened. Add the garlic, then increase the heat and fry for a few minutes. Scoop half the softened onions into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the bay leaves, frozen vegetables (reserve 1/2 of the spinach for the meatballs), tomatoes, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, brown sugar and red wine vinegar to the frying pan. Bring to a simmer. Bubble for 20 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened. Season.
  3. In the large bowl with the cooked onions, add the spinach, organic beef, breadcrumbs, fennel seeds, oregano and egg with plenty of seasoning. Mix everything with your hands really well, then shape into 24 meatballs.
  4. Heat 1 Tbsp. of oil in a cast-iron frying pan and brown the meatballs in batches, adding more oil as needed. The meatballs should be almost cooked through. Cool.
  5. Mix half of the grated mozzarella with the mascarpone and a little salt. When everything has cooled to room temperature, combine the meatballs and tomato sauce in a big baking dish. Spoon the cheesy mascarpone over top and finish with the remaining mozzarella.
  6. Freeze now, if desired, or heat the oven to 325°F. Cover the dish tightly with an extra layer of foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 20-35 minutes. Cook until the meatballs are piping hot and the cheesy top is golden and bubbling.
  7. Let the dish cool for 5 minutes, then add a drizzle of olive oil and a scatter of fresh oregano before spooning straight from the dish. Serve with crusty bread, pasta or rice.

*Freezing notes: Open-freeze in the baking dish until solid, but don’t leave it for too long, then cover with a layer of foil and plastic wrap. The day before you want to bake, transfer the frozen dish to the fridge. When defrosted, finish the dish as instructed above.

Meatball Mozarella Pan Bake with Bread

Table and Dish, Sally Roeckell
By Sally Roeckell
Photographer Sally Roeckell specializes in contemporary lifestyle portraiture with an emphasis on food photography. She has photographed people, food and life all over the US and in Spain, Basque Country, The South of France and Paris. She regularly shops at Heinen’s for the family dishes she features on 365 Barrington and on her website at TableAndDish.com.

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