It has been bitter cold here in my neck of the woods. When it gets this cold outside the only food my family craves is comfort food. Everyone wants to feel warm and cozy inside and comfort food always does the trick.
There is one food that comes to mind when I think about comfort food – meatballs. I love making meatballs and use them in a variety of recipes. They have found their way into soup, subs, and melts. However, one of my absolute favorite ways to eat meatballs is over a bed of pasta with sauce. Seriously, what is more comforting than that! Not much.
Speaking of pasta, another food I turn to when I need comfort is a bowl of egg noodles, butter, and cheese. I know this seems very simple – and it is – but trust me after a long day at work, along with temperatures being in the single digits, this will hit the spot.
This week, it was exceptionally cold out so I knew comfort food would make its way onto the menu. I decided to combine my two favorites – meatballs and egg noodles -to create an ultimate plate of cozy comfort.
I broke out my slow cooker for this recipe. During the day it is very busy and there is nothing better than setting dinner in the morning and having it ready when everyone walks in the door at dinnertime. Plus, meatballs cook amazingly all day in the slow cooker.
I decided to give the meatballs a healthy twist by using ground turkey breast and mixing it with chopped spinach. At first, I was going to chop the spinach myself but ended up using my food processor. I found the spinach got chopped up finer this way, making it easier to distribute evenly throughout the meat.
Next I combined the turkey and spinach with garlic, Parmesan cheese, spices, panko breadcrumbs, and a panade.
A panade is simply a mixture of bread and milk. This is a little secret that I use to keep meat moist, especially in the slow cooker. It works every time so I never skip this step.
After all the ingredients were mixed I rolled the meat into 20 meatballs and baked for about 20 minutes. While the meatballs were baking I prepared the sauce.
I know this slow cooker recipe has a few extra steps before going into the slow cooker but trust me it is worth it.
I started by sautéing the onion and garlic in olive oil. I never throw raw onion or garlic into the slow cooker to cook all day. In my experience, this only results in muted flavors. The best flavor comes from sautéing the onion and garlic beforehand. For this recipe, I also stirred the spices and tomato paste into the onion and garlic mixture before putting into the slow cooker. This helps to bloom the spices and it keeps the tomato paste from clumping up in the slow cooker. I am just full of little slow cooker tips.
After the meatballs were done, I stirred them into the slow cooker, with the sauce, and set it to cook for 5 hours on high. You can also let this recipe cook for 8 hours on low.
Once the ingredients were in the slow cooker I did not have to think about it again until dinnertime. And at 5:00pm the only thing I needed to think about was cooking up the egg noodles. For this recipe I used No Yolks Extra Broad Noodles. These noodles cook up quickly and just right every time. The smooth firm texture holds up great to the meatballs. No Yolks is absolutely delicious and I found myself sneaking noodles to eat as I was preparing everyone’s plates. I love using No Yolks noodles because they are made from egg whites and are cholesterol free. You can read more about No Yolks noodles here.
For quick weekday dinners, it is helpful to have a bag of No Yolks available in the pantry. It went great with this meatballs Florentine recipe but I have also use it in soups and other hearty meat recipes like stroganoff or cacciatorie.
This Slow Cooker Meatball Florentine recipe is perfect for a busy weeknight or lazy Sunday. Leftovers can be frozen for an easy dinner later on. All you need to do is warm the meatballs and sauce up on the stove and then prepare the No Yolk Noodles when you are ready to eat.
A delicious healthy family-friendly dinner can be on the table in about 10 – 15 minutes. You can check out more comforting noodles recipes over at Kitchen Daily.
- 1 piece whole wheat bread
- 2-3 tablespoons 1% milk
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1 cup finely chopped spinach
- 1 large egg
- 3 garlic cloves, grated or finely minced
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon basil
- 1 teaspooon oregano
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
- ¼ cup chicken or beef broth
- 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 6 ounces No Yolks Extra Broad Noodles, cooked according to package instructions.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine bread and milk together in a bowl. Mash until it forms a paste. Set aside.
- In a large bowl combine ground turkey, chopped spinach, egg, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, parmesan cheese, panko bread crumbs, and the bread and milk paste. Using your hands, mix ingredients together until they are combined.
- Roll out 18 – 20 medium sized meatballs and place on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
- While the meatballs are baking prepare the sauce. In a medium pan, heat olive oil on medium high, and sauté the onions and garlic till translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
- Stir in basil, oregano, crushed red pepper, tomato paste and sauté for another 1-2 minutes.
- Stir in chicken broth and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen up any ingredient that is stuck to the pan.
- Pour into the slow cooker. Add crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce to the slow cooker.
- After the meatballs are done add them to the slow cooker. Stir to make sure they are coated with the sauce. Cook for 5 hours on high or 8 hours on low.
- Serve hot over No Yolks Extra Broad Noodles.
The meatballs can be made and cooked ahead of time, flash frozen, then stored in the freezer in a freezer bag. Add meatballs to sauce and continue with recipe when ready to eat.
You can also make the entire recipe ahead of time and freeze in containers for future dinners.
Compensation for this post was provided by New World Pasta via AOL Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of New World Pasta or AOL.