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.