I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who would turn their nose up to some good ol’ homemade meatballs (unless they’re a vegetarian, of course!). We LOVE meatballs at my house, including everything from Moroccan style to Swedish to Italian (below). And my favorite part about this meatball recipe is that, in addition to getting all the work done in advance thanks to your slow cooker, the sauce includes veggies to help make this a “better-for-you” recipe. It’s fabulous served over whole-grain noodles or polenta (and topped with more veggies if you’re so inclined)!
I do say this serves 10, but it’s really more like 8 in my family these days. My kids are hungry little rascals and some of you are noticing on social media. When I used to post my kids lunches on Instagram and Facebook, back when they were in elementary school, many commenters would say, “Wow, that looks like a small snack for my son” (who, come to find out, was a football playing highschooler). And lately, I’ve been chuckling to myself about how many people comment and say my kids’ lunches look like A LOT of food, way more than their kid could ever eat. Sometimes things just come full circle!
Both my girls are in middle school now, are almost as tall as me, and are pretty active (including one who does 12 hours/week of gymnastics and loves every minute of it!!). So, things have changed around here and, back to those comments, each child’s appetite is and should be different depending on their age/size/activities and interest in food. These days I can hardly keep enough prepared food in the house with the hunger that’s going on so, while this should serve 8, we just aren’t in that stage at the moment and that’s okay. I’m usually doubling recipes anyway to give us even a chance of leftovers—which my husband and I love for lunch! With this recipe being on the larger size, I can just make it as is and hope for a respectable amount left the next day.
If you’re feeding a smaller group, or those with smaller appetites, the finished meatballs and sauce do freeze beautifully, so keep that in mind if you want to save it for a rainy day! Enjoy.
Slow Cooker Meatballs
For the Meatballs
For the Sauce
- 1 pound whole wheat pasta cooked according to package directions
For the Meatballs
- Put all the ingredients, except for the flour, in a large bowl and mix with your hands until thoroughly combined. Form into 1 1/2 to 2" meatballs, roll around in the flour until coated, and set aside.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in your largest skillet over medium-high heat. Shake the excess flour off the meatballs and cook until brown on all sides. Cook in batches, if necessary, and drizzle in extra oil if pan starts to appear dry.
- Transfer to bottom of the slow cooker.
For the Sauce
- Place the onion and veggies on top of the meatballs and follow with the seasonings and tomatoes. Cook on high for 5 to 6 hours.
- Spoon off (and discard) any cooking fat that has collected at the top of the sauce and serve over whole-grain pasta or polenta.