These dairy-free meatballs are delicious. This is a large recipe and perfect for stocking your freezer with healthy, great-tasting freezer meals.
On busy days, I often wish we would eat take-out for dinner. I used to buy Chinese food because it seemed to have less dairy, but now since we have a little one with a soy allergy as well as dairy, Chinese is not a good option either.
Instead, I try to keep some quick and easy meals in the freezer. Which means fixing some of my own extra meals ahead of time, because dairy-free and soy-free pre-made meals are not common–even Campbell’s chicken noodle soup contains soy protein.
I like to stock my freezer with this recipe of Italian Meatballs. They are easy to make and freeze great. You can serve them on pasta one day, and use any leftovers for meatball sub sandwiches the next day.
Years ago, I read a blog about mixing grated carrots and chopped onion in your hamburger when browning it to stretch out the hamburger and sneak more vegetables into your diet. I tried the advice, and it is great. I add grated carrots to the meatballs following the same idea. I also added grated zucchini into the recipe, but you can leave it out. Both vegetables blend with the meat nicely, and sneak a little more vegetables onto your plate.
When freezing the meatballs, I mold the raw meat mixture into golf ball-size meatballs in my hands. Then, I line them up in a freezer ziploc bag, and freeze them on a baking pan in the freezer. After the meatballs are frozen, they are less fragile and can be stacked under other foods without loosing their shape.
The best way I have found to cook them is in my electric skillet with a lid. I brown the meatballs, add some dairy-free spaghetti sauce, and simmer with the lid on for about 30 minutes. All you need to do is give them a stir every now and then, and add a little water if the sauce boils down too thick. (While they are simmering, you can cook your pasta and make any other side dishes).
I tried cooking them in the crock pot. It was super easy. I poured two cans of spaghetti sauce into the crock pot and carefully placed the meatballs in the sauce. Then, I put the lid on and let the crock pot do its magic for 5-6 hours. They were super easy to cook this way, but since the hamburger didn’t brown first, it was less flavorful, so I recommend browning the meatballs first in a fry pan or under the oven broiler.
For those of you who aren’t feeding a small army, I’ve included a smaller portion version.
(I divide this into 3 different gallon-sized bag for 3 large meals).
1 1/2 cup oats
2 cups grated carrots
2 cups grated zucchini
2 cups chopped onion
3 cloves garlic minced
1 Tbl dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
2 1/2 tsp salt
6 lbs ground beef (you can use some ground pork as part of the 6 lbs)
In a very large bowl, Mix the eggs, oats, carrots, zucchini, onion, garlic, and seasoning well. Add the ground meat. Shape into golf-ball sized meatballs (or smaller if you prefer). Brown the meatballs in a fry pan (read notes above) and simmer on low in your favorite spaghetti sauce for 20-40 minutes.
Serve over pasta or in a hoagie bun (meatball sandwich).
Ingredients for half a batch
3/4 cup oats
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup grated zucchini
1 cup finely diced onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 Tbls dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 lbs hamburger