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These Parmesan Meatballs Sneak More Veggies into Your Diet with a Secret Ingredient

These aren't your ordinary meatballs — with shredded carrots, herbs and grated Parmesan cheese, they pack a ton of flavor. We used ground beef, but you can swap for turkey or chicken.

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Eating your veggies on the side can get pretty dull if you’re doing so every night of the week. If you’re hoping to up your vegetable intake but don’t want to eat more salads or side dishes, here’s a simple solution: Make meatballs for dinner.

Before you side-eye our suggestion, give our Parmesan Meatballs Over Vegetable Ragu a try. The ground beef meatballs might look like your typical meatball, but there’s a little secret hiding inside each one. In addition to the egg, grated Parmesan and fresh herbs mixed in, we’ve also added an extra dose of fresh veggies in the form of shredded carrot. It’s the perfect subtle way to amp up your vegetable intake – or get picky eaters to eat more without even realizing it.

Plus, we’ve paired the veggie-filled meatballs with a vegetable ragu for even more health-forward benefits. With bell peppers, broccolini, zucchini and garlic in the mix of this ragu, you’ll get a comprehensive range of different veggies and all of the nutrients they can offer. Vitamins A, B and C plus minerals like folate, iron and magnesium – alongside a whole lot of fiber – are all present in this warm, winter-ready recipe.

And it gets even better when you realize that this whole meal, with meatballs included, can be made in just 30 minutes flat.

Parmesan Meatballs Over Vegetable Ragu

Prep Time
25 min
30 min



  • 1 lb ground beef (or ground turkey or chicken)
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup finely shredded carrot
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp each sea salt and ground black pepper


  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 each red and yellow pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 bunch broccolini, cut into 2-inch pieces (halving any thicker stalks)
  • 1 zucchini, cut into 2-inch sticks
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Prepare meatballs: In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Roll into 1-tablespoon balls and arrange on sheet, making about 20 meatballs. Bake for 10 minutes, until firm.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare ragu: In a large sauté pan on medium-high, heat oil. Add onion and cook for 3 minutes. Add bell peppers, broccolini, zucchini and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, until soft. Reduce heat to medium, add Italian seasoning, pepper flakes and salt and cook 2 minutes more, until veg is soft and beginning to color.
  4. Stir in marinara sauce and meatballs to vegetable mixture and heat through, about 5 minutes more. Top with cheese before serving.

NOTE: If following our Meal Plan, cover and refrigerate leftovers. Reheat when called for.

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size ¼ of recipe
  • Calories 434
  • Carbohydrate Content 24 g
  • Cholesterol Content 123 mg
  • Fat Content 25 g
  • Fiber Content 4 g
  • Protein Content 29 g
  • Saturated Fat Content 7.5 g
  • Sodium Content 814 mg
  • Sugar Content 10 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat Content 13 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat Content 2 g