I was convinced that I would never have a child that was a picky eater. When pregnant, I read articles about how what an expecting mother eats can affect a child’s pickiness later in life and felt pretty smug about the variety of foods I was introducing to our little fetus. Then when my oldest was a baby, we embraced the idea of baby led weaning. As he chomped on hummus laden pita chips and whittled apples down to the core, Noel and I gave each other high fives. We were rockstar parents raising a baby with a sophisticated palate. Then that little boy became a toddler and suddenly he wasn’t content to just eat whatever weird looking lentil dish we put in front of him. It only got worse when we added his little sister who won’t touch a vegetable with a ten foot pole despite our best efforts. (I’m sure scientists would blame my strict diet of ice cream, pizza, and Chili’s take-out while pregnant . . . ) Thus we find ourselves in the place most parents do, searching for ways to make sure our kids adhere to a healthy, well-rounded diet. Which basically translates into: scouring the earth for ideas on how to trick them into eating vegetables.
These Swedish meatballs are our best effort yet. Even though there’s an entire cup of vegetables in the meatballs, the taste is just as superb as the original recipe I adapted. Our carnivorous daughter downs them without a thought while my husband and I suppress maniacal laughs. They taste great over both mashed potatoes or rice and are a good candidate for freezing.*
Swedish Meatballs with Sneaky Veggies
For the Meatballs
- 1 medium zucchini, grated
- 1 medium carrot, grated
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1/2 C Panko bread crumbs
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1-2 TBSP olive oil
For the Gravy
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups beef broth (I mix mine up using Better Than Bouillon Beef Base)
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Parsley, optional
- In a large bowl, combine all of the meatball ingredients except for the oil. Mix together with a sturdy spoon or clean hands until evenly combined. Roll the mixture into 1 1/4-to-1 1/2-inch balls.
- Add a tablespoon of olive to a skillet and cook the meatballs in batches over medium high heat. As the sides of the meatballs brown, turn them with a spoon or tongs to make sure all sides get evenly browned. Transfer done meatballs to a plate lined with paper towels. Add more oil to the skillet as needed.
- To make the gravy, melt butter in the skillet. (Use the same skillet you just finished using for the meatballs. It will actually add extra flavor.) Whisk in the flour then gradually add the beef broth whisking constantly. Allow to cook until slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in the sour cream and the salt and pepper, to taste.
- Add the meatballs and stir occasionally until they’re heated through and the sauce has thickened, about 8-10 minutes.
- Serve over rice or mashed potatoes. Garnish with parsley, if desired.
*After the meatballs are cooked, spread them out on a cookie sheet and freeze for at least an hour. After an hour you can transfer them to a plastic freezer bag without fear of them lumping together. The sauce can also be made and frozen or prepared separately the day you intend to eat the meatballs.