Entrees: Meat

Baked Beef Meatballs (With Spinach) and Tomato Sauce

I pair these meatballs with a homemade tomato sauce, but you can serve them with a sauce of your choosing.



  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled or diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 can (6 ounces) low-sodium tomato paste + 3-6 ounces more if necessary to thicken
  • 1/2 cup light or nonalcoholic beer or wine or broth
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped parsley
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or white pepper


  • 1 1/2 pounds super-lean ground beef (around 6% fat)
  • 1 1/2 cups (10-ounce box) frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1/2 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large beaten egg (omega-3, if available) or 1/4 cup egg substitute
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons parsley
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup seasoned or plain dry bread crumbs


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. To make the sauce: add the oil to a large nonstick saucepan or skillet over medium heat. Add the tomatoes; tomato paste; beer, wine or broth; Italian seasoning; garlic powder; parsley; salt, if desired; and pepper. Use a potato masher to crush the tomatoes while the mixture heats up. When the mixture comes to a gentle boil, reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes.
  3. To make the meatballs: In a large mixing bowl, combine the beef, spinach, Parmesan cheese, egg, Italian seasoning, parsley, garlic powder, salt, and 1/4-cup of the bread crumbs. Using your hands or a standing mixer, mix all ingredients together until nicely blended.
  4. Place remaining 1/2-cup bread crumbs in a small bowl. Shape meatballs using a cookie scoop to measure exactly 1/8-cup. Roll each in the bread crumbs and lightly coat with canola-oil cooking spray. Place each in a mini muffin cup (or on a nonstick jelly-roll pan). Bake for 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked throughout and nicely brown on the outside. Serve with the pizza sauce as either an appetizer or entree.

5 main dish servings and 4 cups of sauce

Nutritional Information:
Per serving: 337 calories, 26 g protein, 31 g carbohydrate, 12 g fat, 3.7 g saturated fat, 33 mg cholesterol, 5.3 g fiber, 990 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 32 percent.

© 2008 Elaine Magee

Last Editorial Review: 4/7/2008