Slow-Cooker Spaghetti & Meatballs

Food & Party 16

spaghetti and meatballsEven though Thanksgiving is now a distant memory, things aren't slowing down anytime soon. In fact, until the first of the year, things for most of us will continue to pick up pace as the shopping, planning, and preparations for the holidays commence.

Now more than ever is the time for easy, make-ahead meals, so that after a day of business, you can come home to an already-prepared hearty and satisfying meal. Your slow cooker is just what you need this time of year.  This recipe for spaghetti and meatballs from Cosi is easy to whip up in the morning, then it simmers all day. When dinner time rolls around, all you have to do is boil some pasta (bonus points for whole wheat!), and you have a delicious Italian feast everyone will love.

Sauce:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes with juice
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley

Meatballs:

1 1/2 lb ground meat (ground beef, pork, turkey, or a combination)
1 cup dry bread crumbs
2 large eggs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
1 tablespoon olive oil

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute about 5 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker and add the remaining sauce ingredients. Cover and turn on high while you make the meatballs.

In a large bowl, add all meatball ingredients except the olive oil. Gently combine the mixture with a fork or your hands. Form mixture into 1 1/2 inch balls. Heat olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add meatballs (as many as fit - you may have to cook in batches) and brown lightly on all sides.

Add meatballs to sauce in the slow cooker and stir to cover meatballs with sauce. Cook on low for 5-6 hours. Remove bay leaf and serve over penne pasta or your favorite noodles.

Image via verygreen/Flickr

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