Slow-Cooker Spaghetti with Meatballs Florentine

Why This Recipe Works

This healthy twist on classic spaghetti and meatballs features tender, lean meatballs made ultraflavorful with a mixture of spinach, garlic, and Parmesan and a robust marinara to which we also added fresh spinach. Rather than add raw meatballs to the sauce in the slow cooker, we gave them a quick spin in the microwave first to help them firm up. For our marinara, we needed three tomato products to achieve the right balance of flavor and texture: chunky crushed tomatoes, smooth tomato sauce, and rich tomato paste. Stirring in more spinach at the end kept it bright and created a colorful, healthy, and delicious sauce to accompany our modern take on classic meatballs.


Print Shopping List

1 pound 93 percent lean ground beef
5 ounces (5 cups) baby spinach (1 cup chopped)
½ cup panko bread crumbs
¼ cup whole milk
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
6 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1 pound whole-wheat spaghetti
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
Nutritional Information


Per Serving (Serves 6)

  • Calories 524
  • Cholesterol 53 mg
  • Fat 11 g
  • Sodium 964 mg
  • Saturated 4 g
  • Carbs 79 g
  • Trans 0 g
  • Dietary Fiber 4 g
  • Monounsaturated 3 g
  • Sugar 11 g
  • Polyunsaturated 1 g
  • Protein 33 g

The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Serves 6

1. Using hands, mix together ground beef, chopped spinach, panko, milk, Parmesan, one-third of garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper flakes in bowl until uniform. Pinch off and roll mixture into twelve 2-tablespoon-size meatballs and arrange on large plate. Microwave meatballs until firm, about 5 minutes.

2. Combine tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, soy sauce, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining garlic, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper flakes in slow cooker. Transfer microwaved meatballs and any accumulated juices to slow cooker. Cover and cook until meatballs are tender, 4 to 5 hours on low.

3. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring often, until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain pasta and return it to pot. Add several large spoonfuls of sauce (without meatballs) and remaining 4 cups spinach to pasta and toss until spinach is slightly wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste and adjust consistency with reserved cooking water as needed.

4. Divide pasta among individual serving bowls and top with meatballs and remaining sauce. Sprinkle with basil and serve.