I’ve made no secret over the last few years that I just love meatballs. I make them often and I am always trying to improve on my recipes. So last week when I made my first batch of home-made Ricotta, I wanted to use it in a way I had never done before. I thought of serving the ricotta on top of the pasta, which I did at the end as well, but also decided to mix some of the ricotta into the meatball mixture. I know how deliciously light the ricotta made my Ricotta blueberry pancakes and thought it might do the same with the meatballs. And I was right!
I also amped up the flavour by using three different meats for the meatballs. I used lamb mince, lean beef mince and pork that I minced myself as I couldn’t find ready-made pork mince at the supermarket. The combination of meats ensured super juicy and wonderfully flavoured meatballs. The ricotta kept everything moist and light and baking the meatballs in the tomato sauce resulted in a meatier version of ‘marinara’/tomato sauce to serve over the spaghetti. Very much similar to my Cheesy baked meatballs I made a while ago.
I served the meatballs and tomato sauce on good ‘ol spaghetti and added loads of fresh ricotta and parsley over the top before serving and it was a meal to be remembered. Perfect for this time of the year when comfort food becomes a daily necessity! I know the amount below make a lot of meatballs but I like to cook all the meatballs and then place the left overs in the fridge. They never last very long and are so delicious served inside a toasted baguette to make a quick meatball sub or stuffed inside a pita with some salad ingredients for a quick lunch!
Makes approximately 40 meatballs
for the meatballs
500g lamb mince
500g lean beef mince
500g pork mince (I used pork fillet & minced it with my food processor)
2 red onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 cup chopped parsley
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
3 tsp salt
pepper to taste
for the tomato (marinara) sauce
4 tins chopped tomatoes
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp fresh thyme
black pepper to taste
cooked spaghetti (500g for 4 people)
fresh Italian (flatleaf) parsley
- In a frying pan, fry the red onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil, until soft and translucent. When cooked, remove from the pan and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the meats, cooked onions, bread crumbs, parsley, ricotta, spices, salt & pepper and mix well. To make sure the seasoning is correct, fry a teaspoon of the mixture in the same pan you fried the onions and taste. Adjust seasoning as necessary.
- With wet hands, form golf ball-sized meatballs and place on a tray lined with clingfilm/tin foil. When all the meatballs have been formed, place the tray in the fridge and allow the meatballs to rest for 20-30 minutes.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200°c.
- After 30 minutes, heat a large frying pan and add some olive oil. Fry the meatballs in batched until golden brown all over.
- In the meanwhile, prepare the sauce and pan for baking the meatballs. Simply pour the tinned tomatoes into a large baking dish. Add the sugar, salt, thyme and pepper and mix well.
- As the meatballs come out of the frying pan, place them in the tomato sauce. When all the meatballs are in the tomato sauce, place the baking dish in the oven and allow to bake for 25-30 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through and the tops have darkened slightly.
- Serve the meatballs and sauce over cooked spaghetti and top with more fresh ricotta and parsley.