Is it soup yet? Just kidding! It was another cold day up north and coming home to a nice bowl of chunky veggie soup would be so nice. However, my freezer is fresh out of chunky veggie soup so a dinner of spaghetti and meatballs will have to suffice. Actually pasta and meatballs are just as comforting as soup. Comfort food in the form of little balls of goodness.
My grandson, Hunter, calls them “grandma’s meatballs that taste like lasagna”. They do indeed taste like lasagna since they are nice and moist due to the addition of ricotta. The recipe wasn’t my creation; I record and watch The Chew week nights after dinner. One of my favorite chefs of all time, Michael Symon, made these meatballs a few months back. Curiosity made me try them and I’ve been a convert ever since. I don’t think I’ll ever make meatballs without ricotta again! As I’ve made them for several gatherings now and received major compliments, I’d say popular vote agreed with me. They’re keepers!
It’s always nice to have a big batch of meatballs in bags in the freezer to pull out and add to a sauce of some kind and serve over pasta or rice. If I was super organized, I’d do that. But being me, I just sometimes have them on hand. When I’m in the mood I make a big batch and freeze it up for meals later.
I prefer these meatballs with a simple marinara sauce but they’re also excellent in a mushroom sauce to make Swedish Meatballs. Today we’re only talking red sauce. A simple sauce takes just 30 minutes.
Michael Symon gets credit for the recipe and I’ve made very few modifications. They’re simply just that good! You could probably use veal or some other meats as substitutes for the ground beef or pork. I find using pork necessary as that has more fat content to help with moistness and flavor when you use a leaner type of ground beef.
It’s the addition of simmering the meatballs in my marinara sauce with the Italian spices and herbs that makes the meatballs taste like little lasagna gems! Oh, and the parmesan. Definitely the parmesan.
The meatballs marinara are excellent on any type of pasta. I prefer angel hair pasta and we just loved it when we served it on spaghetti squash. That was a little more carb friendly and perhaps more healthy. The meatballs are also good stuffed in a sub bun and eaten for lunch or on the go. Add a little shredded mozzarella and you have a tasty sub!
adapted from Michael Symon
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 egg; beaten
2 tablespoons parsley; dried
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup parmesan; grated
salt; to taste
oil; for frying
flour; for dusting
56 ounces tomato; diced, canned
1/2 cup onion; chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 cup sugar
Place all ingredients down to and including the salt in a large bowl. Use an open potato masher and your hands and mix it thoroughly.
Make balls using a cookie scoop, placing them on plates.
Pour 2 tablespoons oil into a skillet or two and heat to med low. Put 3/4 cup flour into a cereal bowl. Roll balls in flour to coat thinly and place in pan. Brown on one side until fairly dark, then turn and brown again.
Repeat 2 or 3 times. Place balls in a pan as they are done. When all the meatballs are browned, put the pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
From there you can freeze them or continue on to make a meal.
Dice onion and place in large frying pan with olive oil. Cook 4-5 minutes until translucent. Add garlic powder and stir the last-minute or two.
Add canned tomatoes to pan. Add sugar, oregano, basil, and chili powder.
Stir well and add meatballs to pan. Simmer on low bubble for 30 minutes.
Serve over pasta like radiatore or rigatoni cooked until al dente. Top servings with more grated parmesan if desired.
Yield: 6 servings
I usually triple the meatball recipe and freeze them in zippered bags.