This hearty and delicious comfort food is a favorite at our house. It always disappears with zero leftovers. The best part? I sneak 5 ounces of fresh spinach into the meatballs so the kiddos get some leafy, green vegetables. They don’t notice or have any problem with it!
- 1 onion (chopped)
- 2# ground beef
- 5 ounces of fresh spinach
- 2-3 eggs
- 1 cup bread crumbs of choice
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper
- 1 teaspoon of seasoning salt
- 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
- 8 tablespoons of butter
- 3 cups of beef broth (or 1 Tbsp of bouillon base w/ 3 cups of water)
- 1/4 cup of flour
- 1/3 cup of milk
- 4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce (optional)
Note – I love using a quality bouillon base. It’s so much easier and economical to keep in the household rather than beef broth. If you use a bouillon base, I would recommend that you skip the Worcestershire sauce. Adding both may be too much unless you like a lot of flavor and a lot of salt.
- Start by chopping your onion. Using a large stainless steel fry pan, saute the onion in about 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. Keep your heat down to medium to avoid burning the onions.
- While the onions are cooking, chop your spinach and then add that to the fry pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes just until spinach is wilted. Turn the burner off and remove the pan from heat.
- In a large mixing bowl, add your ground beef, eggs, seasonings, bread crumbs, and cheese. Use a fork to mix the ingredients together, breaking up the beef to fully combine the ingredients together.
- Next, add the cooled onion and spinach mixture into your ground beef mixture. Again, stir it using a fork to fully incorporate the ingredients together.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Prepare two large cookie sheets with parchment paper or tinfoil to prevent the meatballs from sticking.
- Form the meat mixture into balls, rolling them gently in the palm of your hand and place them on the cookie sheets. The meatballs do not expand much, so you only need to place them about 1 inch apart.
- Place the cookie sheets in your oven. You can rotate the cookie sheets every 12 minutes to evenly bake each set. It only takes about 20-25 minutes for them to cook – you will see them brown nicely on the top and sides.
- While the meatballs are cooking in the oven, take your frying pan you used to saute the onion and spinach and add the 8 tablespoons of butter. If you’re cooking with bouillon paste (rather than beef broth), add that to the butter and whisk together.
- Next, add 1/4 cup of flour to the butter (creating a roux – a.k.a. thickening agent). Whisk the two together thoroughly to prevent lumps from forming. Remove heat source as needed to prevent the roux from burning.
- Add the 3 cups of beef broth next (water if you’ve used a bouillon paste in step 8). Do so gradually, adding about 1/2 cup at a time, whisking the liquid into your roux. The first few 1/2 cups will be absorbed quickly and the last few will incorporate more slowly.
- Slowly add the milk, whisking into the gravy mixture.
- Continue whisking until your mixture thickens to a nice gravy texture.
- Last, use a spatula to gently remove the meatballs from your trays and place them in your gravy mixture. Cover and let sit until you are ready to serve to keep warm. If needed, you can turn the heat back on low to warm them back up – but be careful to stir and scrape the bottom to prevent your gravy mixture from sticking).
We serve these meatballs over mashed potatoes. So delicious. If you like a lot of flavor you can play around with garlic mashed potatoes to add more flavor to the dish. Plain mashed potatoes brings out the full flavor of the gravy nicely though and is more palatable to the kids.
Another thing thing about this base meatball recipe in how versatile is it. We use the base meatball recipe to also make meatball subs & spaghetti and meatballs!
For Meatball Subs – Skip the gravy and instead, add the cooked meatballs to a saucepan of hot marinara sauce. Then let the kids assemble subs with provolone cheese (or whatever cheese they prefer) for delicious meatball sub sandwiches.
For Spaghetti & Meatballs – We use the same meatball recipe above (without the gravy). Just heat up some marinara in your sauce pan and add the cooked meatballs to that instead. Then serve over cooked spaghetti noodles.
I hope your family enjoys this recipe as much as ours does.