Meatballs and Tomato Sauce Over Cabbage “Noodles”

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You may have noticed that most of our meals are one-pot or pan affairs. But every once in a while one of us gets a hankering for something a little fancier and, as the family cook, I usually indulge.

On that list recently was meatballs and tomato sauce – something I’ve made in the past but never thought to put on the menu recently. They had to be browned deeply on the outside, burst with flavor and juices on the inside, and pair well with a thick tomato sauce.

Can you tell I was the one who was thinking of meatballs?

So I set out to create these ideal-to-me meatballs and put them into a meal the whole family would be able to eat. The cabbage “noodles” are simply a bed of sauteed, wilted cabbage over which tomato sauce and meatballs are placed. You’d be surprised how well this stands in for noodles. And I’m always glad to get another vegetable on the plate too.

You can substitute your favorite meatball or tomato sauce recipe here, this is simply how I usually make it. But do try the cabbage noodles sometime!

Print Recipe

Meatballs and Tomato Sauce over Cabbage Noodles

Course: Main Course

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • For Meatballs
  • 1 lb. 80% lean ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup oatmeal
  • 2 tablespoons granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • For Sauce
  • 6 cups chopped tomatoes in juice I used 2 quarts home-canned
  • 6 6 oz can or jar tomato paste
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed rosemary laves
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed thyme leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt to taste
  • For Cabbage
  • 1 small head of cabbage quartered, cored, and sliced very thinly
  • drippings from cooking meatballs plus additional olive oil as needed

Directions

  1. For Sauce
  2. One hour before you plan to serve dinner prepare sauce. In a medium sauce pot heat olive oil over medium heat. Add diced onion and saute several minutes or until they begin to wilt. Add garlic and saute one more minute. Add diced tomatoes in juice and tomato paste followed by herbs and spices. Bring to a simmer and then turn heat to low. Allow to simmer, uncovered for 20 minutes before starting meatballs.
  3. For Meatballs
  4. In a medium bowl beat egg. Add herbs, salt, pepper, oatmeal, milk, garlic, and parmesan cheese and combine well with a fork. Allow to sit five minutes to hydrate the oatmeal. Add ground beef, breaking it up with your fingers as you add. Gently fold beef into oatmeal-egg mixture with a fork. Do not over mix or squish all together with your hands. Once all ingredients are combined evenly begin heating a large skillet over medium heat. Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and allow to heat for a few minutes.
  5. Once pan is hot begin making meatballs that are about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. You will end up with about 16 meatballs when all is said and done. Place eight in your skillet, spaced evenly and brown darkly on the first side. Turn and repeat. (You are just browning these, they will cook all the way through in the sauce.)
  6. Once done browning, add the first batch to your sauce, stirring gently to cover. Then repeat browning with the second batch. Once second batch is done you can either remove the first batch or simply add the second batch to the sauce as well, being sure to get the new ones covered in sauce.
  7. Once the skillet is emptied of meatballs add your sliced cabbage, half at a time if the pan isn’t big enough. Saute a few minutes with a pinch of salt and then cover and allow to steam for at least five minutes, or until cabbage is mostly tender. Repeat with remaining cabbage if necessary.
  8. Serve by filling plates with cabbage and then topping with three meatballs each. Cover with sauce and serve with parmesan cheese if desired.

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