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Super meatballs with spicy red sauce

View step-by-step instructions Link to step-by-step instructions

Makes 4 servings.


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 to 3 finely chopped garlic cloves

1 (28-ounce) can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes

1 (28-ounce) can no-salt-added whole plum tomatoes in tomato sauce

2 tablespoons dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste

1 pound 93 to 95 percent lean ground beef

10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry

1/4 cup Italian-seasoned dry breadcrumbs

1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese

1 large egg, at room temperature

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper


  • Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  • Add onion and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add garlic and cook until onions are translucent, 3 minutes, stirring so garlic does not burn.
  • Add crushed tomatoes.
  • To add whole tomatoes, hold one at a time over pot and squeeze it in your fist, crushing tomato through your fingers, then add sauce remaining in can.
  • Add oregano and red pepper flakes. Simmer sauce, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • While sauce simmers, in mixing bowl, combine meat, spinach, breadcrumbs, parsley, cheese, egg and pepper, mixing until well-combined.
  • Divide mixture into 8 parts and form each loosely into a meatball. (Divide mixture into 16 parts for smaller meatballs, if desired.)
  • Gently drop uncooked meatballs into sauce, cover, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer until meatballs are cooked through, 40 minutes.
  • If not serving immediately, cool meatballs and sauce together in big bowl until room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat, covered, in large pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  • Serve meatballs in a bowl with just Spicy Red Sauce, over spaghetti or polenta, or halved to make meatball sandwiches spooned generously with sauce.

Nutrition information

Serving size: 1/4 of recipe. Amount per serving: 380 calories, 13g total fat (4g saturated fat), 36g carbohydrates, 36g protein, 9g dietary fiber, 480mg sodium.

Source: American Institute for Cancer Research

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