Do you have a picky eater? Then do I have a dish for you! Hidden Veggie Meatballs and Spaghetti is a lifesaver for every mom out there that has to beg her kid to just take one bite!
I got lucky with my first child she would at least try anything we put in front of her. She was an amazing eater and still to this day she is my best and worst food critic. High Functioning Autism is a blessing and a curse because trust me if you ever want the truth about something ask an autistic kid. If she said it’s just okay, then it is a recipe that will never be on this blog.
Then I had my second, an ornery young man-cub. He won’t eat unless it is loaded with sugar or cheese. Even if I smoother it in ranch or ketchup it is a nope, not going to, full out temper tantrum, I will not eat tonight type of picky eater child.
I was at my wits end! I mean all I want is for him to grow big and strong with all his teeth!
Does that all sound familiar to you? Bring up some bad memories of the other night? Sorry about that.
I just couldn’t take it anymore! He was going to eat his veggies whether he liked it or not… whether he knew it or not!
That was when I started thinking of ways, I could smuggle veggies in his favorite foods.
First was flour veggie-loaded tortillas, that recipe will be coming soon as soon as a master the skills because he will snacks on those all day.
Then it was stuffed sandwiches, that one was a fail.
Next came the recipe I am going to share with you today Hidden Veggie Meatballs with Spaghetti. What kid doesn’t like to sit there and slurp up those noodles, make a mess, and sing the meatball song? So, I thought it would be perfect for them.
The trick to making it appear that there are no veggies in them is in two simple steps.
First step: you must chop the veggies and sauté them until they are nice and soft. This will ensure that the puree well into a paste
Second step: you must use a Vitamix or (what I use because it is more cost-friendly) a smoothie blender. These will ensure no chunks are left behind unlike a food processor or basic blender. The smoother the blend the better and easier the veggies will be to hide.
In this recipe I decided to add some beans, I feel black or red would work best, the color blends better into the meat. I was out of black beans so red kidney beans were what I used for this batch. I blended those up with the veggies to help make the veggie paste.
Plus, the added fiber and nutrients from beans is just a bonus.
Now, before you blend you have a choice. You can keep some of the veggies wholes and make a chunky tomato sauce or you can puree it all.
I go for a little chunky, but I also stir in a little bit of the puree in the sauce plus put some of the pureed mixture in the meatballs.
Hey, any way I can get this kid to eat his veggies and the more the better! But you’re choosing. Do what your heart desires or what you feel will be best for your family.
Now all that is left is to mix up the meatballs, make the sauce, and the pasta!
For most batches, I typically get 35-40 Hidden Veggie Meatball, but they are only about the size on a ping pong ball. Of course, you make them bigger but you will get less.
Any meatballs you have leftover freeze and use later to make some meatball subs!
So, if you have a picky eater, try these tenders, melt in your mouth, you would never guess there were hidden veggies and beans in them. Hidden Veggie Meatballs and Spaghetti is for you!
Other Family Favorite Dishes
Hidden Veggie Meatball and Spaghetti
- smoothie blender
- Sheet pan
- large pot
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 lb Mild Italian Sausage
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion Chopped
- 1 large zucchini Chopped
- 2 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 large yellow squash chopped
- 4 oz baby bella mushrooms chopped
- 1 cup grape tomatoes
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 15.5 oz can red kidney beans rinsed and drained (or 1/2 cup dried beans cooked rinsed and drained)
- 6 tbsp Italian Seasoning Divided
- 1 6 oz can tomato paste
- 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 16 oz Spaghetti
- 2 cups reserved pasta water
- In a large pot saute chopped onions, zucchini, garlic, yellow squash, tomatoes and mushrooms in olive oil and salt until tender and tomatoes have burst. Divide this mixture (1/2 and 1/2 if you want a more chunky spaghetti sauce or 3/4 and 1/4 if you want a less chunky spaghetti sauce). Allow to cool slightly
- Take part of the veggie mixture and place it in the smoothie blender with the red beans and 3 tablespoons Italian Seasoning and blend until smooth. Set aside
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 13 X 9 pan with foil; spray with cooking spray
- In a large bowl add ground beef, Italian Sausage, bread crumbs, eggs, and 3/4 of the veggie bean mixture. Use your hands and mix until combined.
- Take 1 tbsp side chunks of meat and roll into balls.
- Bake uncovered 18 to 22 minutes or until temperature reaches 160°F and no longer pink in center.
Pasta and Sauce
- In the same pot, you sauteed the veggies combine remaining sauteed veggies, blended veggies, Italian seasoning, tomato paste, and crushed tomatoes. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer for 15 minutes.
- Make the pasta 2 minutes shy of the package directions. Once done reserve 2 cups of pasta water and drain and rinse the pasta.
- Add pasta and pasta water to the tomato sauce and allow the noodles to finish cooking in the sauce, stir occasionally.
- Serve with the meatballs and enjoy watching your kids eating their veggies!