Cooking for kids, y’all. It’s quite a struggle and when your family is vegetarian, it’s even harder because the staples of our diet—vegetables!—can be a hard sell with the kiddos. (It’s not their fault, though! Those immature tastebuds are more sensitive to flavors, making many vegetables that we love as adults less palatable to kids.) These Carrot Walnut Meatballs are kid-approved, they can be frozen for later, and they’re fantastic for topping a big plate of spaghetti.
Or go really wild and try them with zoodles!
The idea of hiding vegetables in kids’ food is a polarizing one. Personally, I’ve always tried to pack as many vegetables into my own meals as possible—not hiding them, per se, but just to add extra fiber and vitamins where I can.
A lot of my family’s dinners consist of both “hidden” vegetables, like the carrots in these Carrot Walnut Meatballs, and loud and proud veggies—zoodles, roasted vegetables as a side, etc. This way, I’m exposing my daughter to vegetables and giving her the chance to love them as they are, but also making sure she gets the nutrition she needs.
My Broccoli Almond Meatballs are a favorite both in my house and on this blog, but these Carrot Walnut Meatballs give them a run for their money. They are so easy to make–only 5 ingredients!–and, like the other meatball recipe, they’re great for making in big batches and freezing for later. Kids love helping make them too.
These meatballs are great for vegetarian school lunches and meatball sandwiches too. Or just serve them with some ketchup for dipping like veggie tots!
Photos by Ana Stanciu
Carrot Walnut Meatballs
- 3 medium carrots peeled and cut into a few large pieces
- 1/2 cup raw walnut pieces
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a mini-muffin tin with olive oil or cooking spray. (If you don't have a mini-muffin tin, a sheetpan will work too.)
- Place the carrots in the food processor and process them until they're coarsely chopped.
- Add the walnuts, cheese, garlic, salt and pepper to the food processor and pulse until chopped. Add the egg and pulse again to incorporate.
- Form the carrot mixture into 16 balls, squeezing them a little to make sure they hold their shape, and place each one in a cup in the muffin tin.
- Bake the meatballs for about 45 minutes, turning halfway through cooking time, until they're golden-brown and slightly crispy on the outside.
- Remove the tin from oven and cool for 5 minutes; to remove the meatballs, run a butter knife along the edges of each muffin cup to loosen before gently popping them out.