Broken Vermicelli & Meatballs
One of the best ways to make a meatball moist and juicy without using ground meat that is high in fat, is to cut the amount of meat used and replace it, as here, with spinach, bread crumbs and Parmesan. This mixture is seasoned with basil and black pepper, and then baked to produce an extraordinarily flavorful and tender meatball.
  • 1/2 pound lean beef top round, cut into chunks
  • Half a 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 large red bell peppers, cut lengthwise into slivers and halved
  • 1 large green bell pepper, cut lengthwise into slivers and halved
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth, canned or homemade
  • 1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes
  • 8 ounces vermicelli, broken in half

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a jelly-roll pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a food processor, finely grind beef. Add spinach, egg whites, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, 3/4 teaspoon of basil, and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, and pulse until blended. Shape into 20 meatballs, using about 1 tablespoon of mixture for each.

3. Place meatballs on prepared jelly-roll pan and bake, turning once, 12 to 15 minutes, or until no longer pink in center.

4. Meanwhile, in Dutch oven or flameproof casserole, heat oil over high heat. Add red and green bell peppers and garlic, toss to coat well with oil, and saute for one minute.

5. Add broth, remaining 3/4 teaspoon basil and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and saute eight to 10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

6. Reserving liquid, drain tomatoes. Stir drained tomatoes into casserole, breaking them up with a spoon. Bring to a boil. Add meatballs, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes to blend flavors. If sauce gets too dry, use some of reserved tomato liquid.

7. Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling water, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain in a colander and transfer to a serving bowl. Pour meatballs and sauce over pasta and serve hot.

Nutritional Information
Per serving: 464 calories, 9g total fat, 2.6g saturated fat, 3.8g monounsaturated fat, 1.2g polyunsaturated fat, 7.4g dietary fiber, 29g protein, 69g carbohydrate, 35mg cholesterol, 582mg sodium.
Good source of: beta-carotene, fiber, folate, iron, lycopene, magnesium, manganese, niacin, potassium, riboflavin, selenium, thiamin vitamin B12, vitamin B6, vitamin C.

Date Published: 09/19/2005 > Printer-friendly Version

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