Super Grain Ricotta Meatballs in Red Sauce and Green Beans

Become the envy of your co-workers with this hearty and healthy lunch.

This lunch going to make you friends. If you take it to work and heat it up in the microwave, the scent is going to have your coworkers wondering what you made. Full disclosure: this meal has some prep involved, so be sure to set at least an hour and a half aside for kitchen time. My timeline looks something like this: I like to start on a Friday night by cooking the quinoa, sauteeing the leeks and other ingredients that go in the meatballs. This leaves time so everything can cool down when it’s time to assemble your meatballs. Saturday is about an hour of prep and cooking time. Factor in 4 hours of slow cooker time on high, then time to cool. Sunday a.m., factor in about 15 minutes to batch assemble lunches. Yeah, that sounds like a lot of time, so think of these as a weekend project. But by breaking down this recipe over three days, it goes by quickly and the results are impressive. Besides, with this soundtrack to groove to, the time will fly by. Time flies if you enlist a spouse or teen to chip in with the chopping. 

MEATBALLS

  • 1/2 cup chopped leeks
  • 3/4 cup chopped red pepper
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 6 fresh sage leaves, chopped 
  • 1 tsp salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 tbs tomato paste (cause it was in the fridge and needed to be used up)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 lbs lean ground pork
  • 1 tbs sage and rosemary chopped
  • 2 tbs of chopped parsley

RED SAUCE

  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 shallot, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 3 tomatoes (very ripe medium sized), chopped and seeded
  • 1 8 ounce can of tomato sauce

THE NIGHT BEFORE (not necessary, but I like to break things up)

  • Rinse and cook quinoa following package directions.
  • Chop leek and red pepper. Sauté in pan for 10 minutes. At the end of cooking, add minced garlic.
  • Let all items cool overnight or 30 minutes.

MAKE TOMATO SAUCE In your slow cooker on the stove top (NOTE: I use a slow cooker that has a metal insert. It goes from stove top to slow cooker. If you have a ceramic insert, you want to cook this in a pan, then add to your slow cooker) 

  • Sauté shallot in butter and olive oil for 5 minutes.
  • Peel and chop carrots. Add to pan. Stir to combine. 
  • Chop and seed tomatoes. Add to pan and stir.
  • Add can of tomato sauce. Stir to combine. 
  • Add white wine. Yup, you’re going to stir some more.
  • Turn up heat so things come to a nice simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add minced garlic. Turn heat down because burnt garlic makes thing taste nasty. 

MAKE MEATBALLS

  • In a separate bowl:
  • Combine ground pork, cooked and cooled leeks, red pepper, quinoa, chopped garlic, chopped sage, Parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, rosemary, and parsley.
  • Form into 20 or so balls.

SLOW COOKER MAGIC

  • Nestle balls in the sauce.
  • Place lid on the slow cooker.
  • Cook for 4 hours on high.

GREEN BEANS ON THE SIDE

  • Wash + remove the ends of the beans.
  • Blanch in salted hot water for four minutes.
  • Drain cooked beans in a colander.
  • Shock bean in a bowl of ice water.
  • Combo one chopped clove of garlic and knob of butter in a sauté pan.
  • Cook beans until fragrant and covered in garlic. 
  • Add S+P. 
  • Let cool.

PACKAGE LUNCH

  • Once cooled, scoop 4 balls and place in a clean Talenti ice cream container
  • Add sauce to jar.
  • Top with cooled green beans.
  • Screw on top.
  • Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Comments (2):

  1. Nicole

    February 13, 2020 at 11:39 am

    Been wanting a weekend meatball project! Once our temps cool down – these are ON!

    Reply
    • heathbrockwell

      February 13, 2020 at 8:29 pm

      Please keep me posted on how they turn out.

      Reply

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