Recipes & Cooking

Meatballs Marinara

by The Culinistas

When cooking at home with the young ones, keeping them occupied and engaged should be top of mind. This recipe invites mashing, grating, and other tactile delights, allowing the kids to lend a hand and you to focus on the rest of dinner. Plus, the familiar vehicle of a meatball is a great way to incorporate veggies that are otherwise tricky to sell.

Meatballs Marinara

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Serves 4 to 6


¼ c black lentils
8 oz ground beef
1 egg
1 c onion, minced, divided
1 c zucchini, grated, divided
3 TB olive oil, divided
1 (14.5 oz) can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste

1.  In a small saucepan of boiling water, cook lentils until very soft, about 30 minutes. Add more water to the pan as it reduces before the lentils cook. Strain and cool completely.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine cooked lentils, ground beef, egg, ½ cup onion, ½ cup zucchini and season with salt. Portion the mixture 1 TB each and shape into round balls.

3. In a large sauté pan, heat 2 TB oil and sear meatballs until golden brown, 3 minutes per side. Transfer the meatballs onto a large plate.

4. In the same pan, add remaining 1 TB oil and sweat remaining ½ cup onion until translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Add remaining ½ cup zucchini and cook until soft, 5 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes. Return meatballs to the pan, nestling them into the sauce, season with salt to taste and serve.

A special thanks to Nadia Agsen for the beautiful photograph.