Oh my word, these slow cooker meatballs are SO good!! The slightly bold, earthy flavor of broccoli rabe pairs perfectly with salty cheeses, so I knew they would be awesome in my Sunday meatballs, and I was right!
Yield: 5 Servings
5 from 2 votes

Slow Cooker Beef Meatballs with Broccoli Rabe

Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 3 hrs
Total Time: 3 hrs 5 mins
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American, Italian
Oh my word, these slow cooker meatballs are SO good!! The slightly bold, earthy flavor of broccoli rabe pairs perfectly with salty cheeses, so I knew they would be awesome in my Sunday meatballs, and I was right!

Ingredients

For the meatballs:

  • 1 bunch (about 20 oz broccoli rabe, washed, stems trimmed off)
  • 1 cup unpacked fresh whole wheat bread (crusts removed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 1-3/4 oz))
  • 3 tablespoons fat free milk
  • 1 lb 93% lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 large egg (beaten)
  • 2 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh black pepper

For the Sauce:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves smashed garlic
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes with basil (I love Tuttorosso)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  •  

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil, then add the broccoli rabe. Blanch for about 1-1/2 to 2 minutes, drain well and set aside in a colander to cool. Finely chop 3/4 cup of the florets and leaves (3-3/4 ounces) and set the rest aside for another use (I sauteed it with garlic and oil).
  • Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine the bread with milk, tossing to coat. Let stand, tossing occasionally, until bread is completely moist, about 10 minutes. Squeeze bread between your fingers or mash with a spoon to make sure there are no dry spots; if there are dry spots that refuse to moisten, add more milk 1 tablespoon at a time until bread is moist throughout.
  • Add the ground beef, chopped broccoli rabe, grated cheese, egg, fresh garlic, salt and pepper. Mix with clean hands, then gently form into 15 meatballs, about 1/4 cup each and transfer to a large baking sheet. Broil on the 2nd rack from the top until the top is golden, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • In a small skillet heat the oil over medium heat, add the garlic and cook until golden on both sides.
  • Pour the crushed tomatoes into a 6-quart slow cooker. Add salt and pepper, bay leaf and the garlic. Gently place the meatballs into the sauce, cover and cook low 4 to 6 hours or high 2 to 3 hours.

Nutrition

Serving: 3meatballs plus sauce, Calories: 295kcal, Carbohydrates: 18g, Protein: 27g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 4.8g, Cholesterol: 102mg, Sodium: 757mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 7g
Blue Smart Points: 5
Green Smart Points: 7
Purple Smart Points: 5
Points +: 7