Slow Cooker Beef Meatballs with Broccoli Rabe
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 3 hrs
Total Time: 3 hrs 5 mins
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!
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
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.
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