Our Italian food blogger friend, Marie of Proud Italian Cook has been blogging since 2007 and has been an inspiration for us at Our Italian Table ever since we started back in 2008. Marie is always quick to support the food blogging community and is always one of the first likes or comments we find on our posts. Marie recently was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer and we in the food blogging community are posting her recipes to lend support to our friend. She recently started treatment and the road ahead for her is certainly daunting.
Over the years, Marie has posted thousands of delicious and approachable recipes which have graced the tables of so many of her loyal following. Marie’s son has signed up to run the Boston Marathon in her name and to raise money for cancer research. If you can show a bit of support, this LINK will take you directly to the Dana Farber site where you can donate.
It was indeed difficult to pick which of her recipes to make as there are so many wonderful ones on her site. I decided on her delicious ricotta meatballs for a weeknight meal with company coming to visit. These delicious meatballs also happen to be gluten free – extra bonus for sure. These meatballs are so quick to pull together – one bowl to mix everything together. You also bake these rather than simmer them in the sauce. (Should you prefer them in the sauce, simply drop them in as they finish frying them).
Her tip to fry up a little of the meatball mix is one we always follow when making meatballs. It gives you an opportunity to adjust the seasonings prior to frying the entire batch. The only change I made was to make a very simple tomato sauce (rather than jarred) which comes together in less than 20 minutes.
Pulled warm from the oven, the dish makes for an easy meal served with a simple lemony green salad, some crusty bread and your favorite bottle of red. Marie, sending you our thoughts, prayers and much love from Our Italian Table.
xx tanti baci,
Proud Italian Cook’s delicious and tender ricotta meatballs – perfect for a simple mid-week dinner!
For the sauce:
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole or diced tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
- 1 sprig basil
- Kosher salt
- Ground black pepper
For the meatballs:
- 2 pounds ground beef, 85% lean 15% fat
- 1 egg
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 3 very generous heaping tablespoons ricotta, look for a good quality supermarket ricotta, not the over-the-counter deli type which holds a lot of moisture.
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed or grated on a microplane
- ½ cup grated Pecorino Romano
- ½ cup Italian parsley, chopped
- 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black
- Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
To serve: Basil leaves, grated Pecorino Romano
- Make the sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato paste. Continue to stir until the tomato paste caramelizes and turns a dark brown, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add in the tomatoes and their juices and the sprig of basil. Bring sauce to a simmer and cook until the sauce slightly thickens, and the tomatoes break down, about 30 minutes.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Make the meatballs: In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together well. Before you form mixture into balls, fry off a little bit of the meatball mix, this way you can really check for the right seasoning. Sometimes you need more grated cheese, pepper, salt, parsley, and this way you’ll be able to adjust to your liking.
- Drizzle olive oil in a nonstick skillet and when oil is hot drop your formed meatballs into the pan and caramelize on all sides, no need to worry about cooking it all through, just make sure to get a nice crust all around.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Spoon some tomato sauce into the bottom of a casserole dish, add the meatballs, then spoon some sauce on top of each one as well.
- Bake uncovered for 15 minutes. Remove and garnish with fresh basil leaves. Serve with extra tomato sauce and plenty of grated Pecorino Romano.