Beef-and-Mixed-Grain Meatballs

beef-and-mixed-grain meatballs
Photo: Lennart Weibull
Total Time:
30 mins

Our healthy spin on "porcupine meatballs"—which started as a way to stretch meat during the Great Depression—mixes pre-cooked grains with ground beef to give them a boost of nutritious fiber for a quick weeknight dinner.


  • 1 package (8.5 ounces) ready-to-eat whole-grain blend (1 ½ cups)

  • 12 ounces ground beef (85 percent lean)

  • ½ sweet onion, such as Vidalia, chopped (1 ½ cups) and divided

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 teaspoons)

  • 3 cups marinara, homemade or store-bought (such as Rao's)

  • 12 ounces bucatini or thick spaghetti

  • Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, red-pepper flakes, and arugula, for serving


  1. Combine grains, beef, 1/2 cup onion, oregano, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; form into twelve 1 1/2-inch balls. Heat a large straight-sided skillet over medium-high; swirl in oil.

  2. Add meatballs and cook, turning, until browned in places, 5 to 7 minutes. Add remaining 1 cup onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, 2 minutes. Add marinara; simmer over medium heat, turning meatballs a few times, until cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, 2 minutes less than package instructions. Reserve 12 cup pasta water; drain. Return pasta to pot and toss with some marinara, thinning with reserved pasta water until sauce evenly clings to pasta. Serve with meatballs and more marinara, cheese, red-pepper flakes, arugula, and a drizzle of oil.

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