Using a trio of meats is perfect for these tender meatballs. Beef adds hearty flavor, while pork and veal provide a natural sweetness. It’s best to use an equal amount of each for the perfect blend. Most recipes call for browning meatballs, but this one braises them in an herbed tomato sauce for a warming, comforting dish. (Tip: the meatballs and sauce can be prepared a day ahead, refrigerated and reheated before serving.)
Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
For the meatballs:
2 lb. (1 kg.) mixed ground beef, pork and veal
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup (1 oz./30 g.) fresh bread crumbs or panko
1/4 cup (1 oz./30 g.) pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup (1 oz./30 g.) grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
2 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbs. chopped fresh oregano
1 Tbs. chopped fresh basil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (28 oz./875 g.) diced tomatoes with juice
1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml.) dry white wine
2 Tbs. chopped fresh basil (optional)
To make the meatballs, in a large bowl, combine the ground meats, egg, the finely chopped onion, bread crumbs, pine nuts, Parmesan, parsley, oregano and basil. Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Using your hands, gently but thoroughly blend the ingredients. Form the mixture into meatballs about 2 inches (5 cm.) in diameter.
To make the sauce, in a large, heavy saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and saute until softened, 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes and wine and bring to a boil. Lower the meatballs into the sauce, gently spooning the sauce over them. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until the meatballs are firm and cooked through, 20-30 minutes.
Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in the basil (if using). Transfer the meatballs and tomato sauce to a large shallow bowl and serve. Serves 4.
Find more simple one-dish dinners in our cookbook One Pot of the Day by Kate McMillan.