I am not a meatball lover, but I adore black beans. I eat meatballs maybe once or twice a year and black beans as often as possible. There is something about eating meatballs at a restaurant that does not work for me. But there is no reason I can not enjoy them. With that said let us make Baked Meatballs with black bean sauce.
A few months ago, I reintroduced meat back into my diet, only once a week, but I needed to mix it up, or I will give it up entirely again. While spaghetti and meatballs are the perfect combo and comfort food, I wanted something healthier. I wanted meatballs that I could eat alone, with spaghetti or anything else I chose, and it needed to be baked, and the meatballs needed to be baked.
And so, I created baked meatballs with black bean sauce. Unfortunately, Google was not much help in this case. The only black bean sauce recipe I found requires store-bought sauce, and honestly, the recipe did not seem that appetizing to me. However, I did find a baked chicken meatballs recipe at Sara’s site, Dinner at the Zoo. I love Dinner at the Zoo because I find recipes that I can easily adjust to fit my pallet. So, here are two of my favorite recipes I recreated from Sara’s website and made my own [Sweet potato casserole and loaded smash potatoes].
While Dinner at the Zoo offered the best recipe for baked chicken meatballs, I needed to put my spin on it and make it work with what I had on hand ground beef.
Read on for my baked meatballs with black bean sauce.
How do you make baked meatballs?
Sara’s recipe called for ground chicken, but I used ground beef instead.
I am South American and do things a bit differently. For example, whenever I create any meat or seafood dish, I need to pre-season at least twenty-four hours before making a meal.
So the day before I made the meatballs, I seasoned my ground beef.
One teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of dried Italian seasoning
One teaspoon of black pepper
½ of a teaspoon of Oregano
One teaspoon of Mrs. Dash’s original seasoning
½ tablespoon of Caramel browning sauce
One tablespoon of Fish and
Mix the above ingredients thoroughly into the ground beef, cover the bowl, and refrigerate overnight.
The next day I removed the seasoned ground beef from the refrigerator and allowed it to sit for fifteen minutes. This is the time to add eggs, milk, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, seasonings, and pre-seasoned ground beef into a large bowl and mix well.
Line a sheet pan with foil, place the one-inch balls rolled out of the mixture on the lined pan and place it in the oven. When the meatballs are perfectly brown and cooked through, take them out of the oven and set aside.
- You can use ground Turkey or chicken.
- When you select your ground chicken, beef or Turkey, opt for pasture-raised and choose ninety-three to ninety-six percent lean ground meat.
- You can skip the pre-seasoning phase and do everything on the same day.
- You can serve these meatballs in garlic butter sauce as Sara did or marinara sauce or use a marinara sauce for dipping.
- Try putting a little cooking oil on your hands when you form the meatballs. That helps keep the meat from sticking to you and gives you smoother meatballs.
How to keep the meatballs moist
Make sure you add the olive oil indicated in this recipe.
Mix the meatballs thoroughly, so the eggs and bread crumbs are evenly distributed.
Choose ninety-three to ninety-six percent lean ground meat so that the meat has moisture.
Do not overbake the meatballs. Instead, take them out of the oven when they are cooked through, and the tops are browned.
These meatballs bake up browned on the outside and moist on the inside. They work perfectly in pasta, in a meatball sandwich, as a party appetizer, or alone. I think my mom also had them with rice—the possibilities are endless.
Two pounds of ground beef, ninety-six lean pasture raised
One cup of panko breadcrumbs unseasoned
Two pasture-raised eggs
One cup of grated parmesan cheese
½ cup of oat milk [you can use whatever you like]
Four tablespoons of olive oil
½ teaspoon of dried Italian seasoning
One teaspoon of minced garlic
½ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoons oregano
I did not add more salt here since I added it when I pre-seasoned the ground beef; if you did not pre-seasoned add one teaspoon of salt.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with foil, and coat the foil with cooking spray. I used Avocado cooking spray.
- Place the pre-seasoned ground beef, eggs, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, olive oil, garlic, pepper, Oregano, and Italian seasoning in a bowl. Mix until thoroughly combined.
- Roll 1-inch-sized meatballs, and place the meatballs in a single layer on the baking pan.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until meatballs is browned and cooked.
How to make the Black Bean sauce
This recipe contains basic ingredients such as olive oil, onion, garlic, pumpkin, black beans, Spinach, sweet peppers, San Marzano tomatoes, Oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, bay leaf, and fresh basil sprigs. The result is a thick, comforting, and delicious sauce that is satisfying.
Start by roasting pumpkin, sweet peppers, tomatoes, and garlic; while those are being roasted, purée spinach and two cans of unsalted black beans drained and washed.
Once pumpkin, sweet peppers, tomatoes, and garlic are done roasting, add to bullet and purée.
Next, Start by cooking olive oil and onions in a pan. Add puréed tomatoes, pumpkin, garlic, and sweet peppers mixture. Then add puréed Spinach, black beans, dried herbs, fresh basil, sage, and seasonings. Let the mixture simmer over low heat until the sauce has thickened. Remove the basil sprigs and bay leaf from the sauce and discard.
Tips for the perfect Black Bean Sauce
Since this is such a simple recipe, the quality of the ingredients counts; look for high-quality extra virgin olive oil. I used fresh tomatoes for this recipe, but you can use canned Italian tomatoes. I learned about San Marzano tomatoes from Sara [I made her Marinara sauce with a little twist] Sara is correct when she said “they have the best flavor and texture.” Keep an eye out for tomatoes with a “D.O.P” on the label, which guarantees that the tomatoes are authentically San Marzano.
This sauce stayed fresh in the refrigerator for five days, but I am not sure how long it will last frozen—I have to make a double batch next time around.
If you prefer a smooth sauce, use an immersion blender to purée the mixture after it is cooked. I chose to roast my veggies and then purée except the Spinach, which was puréed raw.
If you want to omit the veggies, use three cans of unsalted black beans, washed, drained, and puréed. Along with one can of Italian canned tomatoes.
You can chop the tomatoes or crush them with your hands if you use canned tomatoes; save all the juice in the can for the recipe. I have used canned tomatoes before, and it worked just as well—I just happened to find fresh tomatoes at Whole Foods this time.
Homemade sauces are always a hit—I like experimenting and finding ways of making traditional sauces with a vegetable base. It is much healthier; often, I like it a whole lot better, and it is an excellent way to mix things up.
Four tablespoons of olive oil
⅓ cup onion finely diced
Five cloves of garlic roasted
Four cups of purée roasted tomatoes
One cup of puréed roasted sweet peppers
Three cups of purée roasted pumpkin
Two cups of purée spinach
One teaspoon of dried Oregano ½ teaspoon salt [more to taste if needed]
Two teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes [optional]
Two cans of unsalted washed, drained, and puréed black beans
½ teaspoon of pepper One bay leaf
½ teaspoon of ginger + garlic + pimento seasoning
Two sprigs of fresh basil
- Place the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.
- Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes or until softened.
- Add purée roasted tomatoes, sweet peppers, pumpkin, and garlic.
- Then add purée spinach and black beans, Oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, bay leaf, fresh basil, ginger + garlic + pimento seasoning, and ½ cup water.
- Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook for twenty minutes.
- Add baked meatballs and cook on low heat for ten more minutes or until the sauce thickens. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
- Remove the basil sprigs and bay leaf and discard. Serve and enjoy.
And there you have it, my baked meatballs with Black bean sauce. This backed meatballs and black bean sauce can be eaten alone, with spaghetti, or with bread. You can also choose not to put the meatballs into the sauce and use the sauce as a dip.