Sunday night dinner after a busy weekend. Is there anything more comforting than meatballs in a rich tomato sauce? Perfect family food for a cold winter’s night. Our favourite meatball recipe features ricotta and parmesan cheese. The result? Meltingly soft and tender meatballs. Full of flavour. Hearty. Rustic. And very moreish. So much so I always make a double batch.
Italian Meatballs With Ricotta and Parmesan Cheese and a Rich Tomato Sauce
400g box of dried pasta, I like to use tagliatelle
1/4 cup grated Parmesan to serve
For the Meatballs
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons parsley, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon basil or rosemary, roughly chopped
3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 cup ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoon fresh nutmeg, grated
zest of 1 large lemon, grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
500g pork and veal mince
parmesan, grated as garnish to your taste
For the Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large brown onion, finely diced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2-3 teaspoons crushed chilli flakes
1/2 cup white wine
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
a good pinch of sugar
a dash of balsamic vinegar
sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper to season
Prepare the Meatballs
HEAT two tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan and cook the onion until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook a few minutes more, set aside to cool.
PLACE the herbs, breadcrumbs, ricotta, parmesan, lemon zest, nutmeg and egg in a bowl. Add the mince and the cooled onion and garlic.
SEASON generously with salt and pepper and mix to combine. Rest the mixture in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.
SHAPE tablespoons of the meat mixture into balls and dust lightly with a little flour.
HEAT the remaining olive oil in a large shallow fry pan or wok. Fry the meatballs until golden brown on all sides. If necessary cook them in two batches and make sure there is enough oil to prevent them sticking to the pan. Remove and set aside.
Prepare the Tomato Sauce
IN A large shallow frying pan over medium heat, sauté onion in olive oil with a pinch of salt until translucent. About 5 minutes
ADD garlic and crushed chilli flakes. Sauté until fragrant.
DEGLAZE the pan with the white wine, stirring well until the wine has evaporated.
ADD the canned tomatoes and cook until the sauce begins to thicken. Break down the tomatoes with the back of your wooden spoon as you stir.
ADD herbs,balsamic vinegar and sugar. Stir well to combine. Turn the heat down to low and simmer until the sauce is rich and thick.
Assemble the Dish
RETURN cooked meatballs to the pan, reduce heat to a low simmer and gently warm through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
MEANWHILE cook pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water according to the instructions on the back of the box until al dente.
DRAIN the cooked pasta and toss through the meatballs and sauce. Sprinkle with chopped fresh herbs and grated Parmesan cheese to serve.