Coaching · Healthy Eating · Recipes

Meatballs in Tomato & Basil Sauce

What’s better than homemade healthy meatballs? Having them stock-piled in your freezer for busy week-nights! This recipe is fantastic because you can feed a crowd of 8 in one shot (either same-day, or just freeze for later), or you can serve 4 now and freeze the rest for another night. Big crowd, small crowd, Sunday dinner or weeknight. Versatile. Me likes. Thank you Cooking Light for putting this recipe in this month’s issue … although, what I’m sharing here is tweaked a little bit to make it a bit healthier and a bit tastier.

SAUCE ~ You Will Need: 

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup coarsley chopped white or yellow onion
5 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 teaspoons dried basil
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/3 cup dry red wine
2 (15 ounce) cans unsalted crushed tomatoes
2 (14.5 ounce) cans unsalted diced tomatoes, undrained
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan Salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
(plus extra dried basil and some dried oregano, to taste)

MEATBALLS ~ You Will Need:

Olive Oil Cooking Spray
2 (1-ounce) slices whole-grain bread
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, divided
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan Salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound 90% lean grass-fed ground organic beef
1/2 pound organic ground turkey
2 (6 ounces) sweet Italian organic sausage, casings removed
5 garlic gloves, minced
2 eggs, lightly beaten



1.  To prepare sauce, heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil, swirl to coat. Add 1 cup chopped onions, 5 garlic cloves, and 1.5 tsp dried basil to pan; cook 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add tomato paste; cook 1 minute., stirring constantly. Stir in wine; cook 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and sugar; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 25-30 minutes (or until thickened), stirring occasionally. Stir in salt, pepper and the extra basil and oregano mentioned above “to taste”. See my picture above to get an idea of how flavorful I like my sauce!

2. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.

3.  To prepare meatballs, coat 2 baking sheets with cooking spray. Tear bread into teeny pieces by hand (what I did) or tear into larger pieces and then place into a bowl of a food processor; pulse until fine cubes form. Place breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup finely chopped onion, 1/3 cup parsley, and next 7 ingredients (through eggs) in a large bowl. Stir until combined. Shape into 40 small meatballs or 20 larger ones (what I did); arrange meatballs on prepared pans; Bake at 450 for 15 minutes. Add meatballs to tomato sauce; simmer 10 minutes for 40 small meatballs, 20 minutes for 20 larger ones. Follow freezing instructions below, or continue recipe to step four.

4. Cook whole-grain spaghetti according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain. Top pasta with meatball mixture; sprinkle with remaining fresh parsley and ENJOY!


Cool meatball mixture completely and place in 1 or 2 large, gallon-sized, zip-top freezer bags, and freeze. When ready to use, hold bag under running water for 1 minute; remove meatball mixture, place in microwave safe dish, cover and heat at 50% power for 12 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes.

I can’t wait to enjoy this over April vacation when we have my step-children with us. Our time with them is limited so I always like to plan ahead most of our meals so that we can spend more time together as a family and less time stressing over feeding 6 people healthy, affordable meals! This one is definitely a keeper, because of course I taste-tested a serving of the sauce and meatballs (I just scarfed some by itself without any pasta and it was that good!).

Each serving (5 small meatballs, or 2-3 of the larger size, 3/4 cup of sauce and 3/4 cup of pasta) is also about 470 calories, jam packed with protein and and low in fat! Clean, simple, easy. Share with your friends!

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