Rita's Kitchen: Ricotta Meatballs with Rosemary Tomato Sauce
Rita's Kitchen: Ricotta Meatballs with Rosemary Tomato Sauce
Posted on
April 19, 2024
"Meatballs used to be so intimidating to me because I thought they had to be pan-fried, and the idea of pan-frying 40 little balls in batches just was not for me. But then I discovered the joy of baking meatballs, which allows you to fully cook every single last one, all at once, in less than 20 minutes. And since the prep work mostly involves just mixing up ingredients, it took what was once something I only ever consumed at restaurants and turned it into, dare I say, an easy weeknight meal.

Today, I’m sharing perhaps my favorite variation: ricotta meatballs. They are so moist (I said it!), tender, juicy, and delicious. I serve them in a rosemary-spiked sauce which just adds a jolt of unexpected freshness, and some toasted bread. Maybe some greens on the side. The result is a dish that truly tastes like something you’d get at a restaurant but actually comes together in about 30-ish minutes." -Rita (SaturdayTable)

Serves: 6

Cook time: 40 minutes

Meatball ingredients:

• 1 1/2 cup ricotta 
•  1/2 cup breadcrumbs 
•  1 lb ground beef 
•  1 lb ground pork 
•  1 cup ground Parmesan 
•  2 eggs 
•  1/2 cup chopped parsley 
•  6 cloves of garlic finely 
•  1/2 yellow onion, grated or finely chopped 
•  Salt and pepper 

 Preheat oven to 425. Mix ricotta and breadcrumbs together in a large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and season generously with salt and pepper. Test seasoning by cooking a small piece of the mixture in a pan. Adjust salt if necessary.

Using about 2 tablespoons at a time, roll into balls and place on a baking sheet (this yields about 32 meatballs). Bake for 12 minutes, then broil for 3-4 minutes until brown on top. 

Sauce ingredients:

• 1/3 cup olive oil
• 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
• 1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
• 1 sprig rosemary
• Salt

Add olive oil and garlic to a cold pan then turn the heat to medium. Cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is just starting to brown. Add the tomatoes and season generously with salt. Using the back of a wooden spoon, gently break the tomatoes down. Add the rosemary and reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. To serve, top meatballs with rosemary tomato sauce. Serve with toasted bread.


  • • Make ahead: Prepare the meatballs ahead of time and place them uncooked and on a baking sheet in the fridge until ready to cook. Let the come to room temp for about 10 minutes before putting in the oven. Cook according to directions. The sauce can be made ahead of time and heated just before serving.

  • • Leftovers: These freeze beautifully and are ideal for meal prep. I kept the leftovers in the fridge for about four days before moving the rest to the freezer. They’ll keep for 1-2 months in the freezer. To reheat from the fridge, just microwave or air-fry. From the freezer, let them defrost and reheat, or air-fry from frozen (I find microwaving from frozen results in a tough texture). Bonus, if you have babies who are learning to eat, these are ideal for baby-led weaning. And my toddler still loves them to this day.

  • • The meat of it: Go all beef or all pork if you’d like, or sub in ground turkey or chicken for the pork. I wouldn’t do all chicken or all turkey, because the texture would be a bit different and they wouldn’t be as moist.

  • • Sides, please: I loooove serving this with steamed broccolini. I do this in the microwave (I know, sue me, but all cooking methods can lead to a loss in nutrients so why not go for the easiest???) — rinse broccolini, don’t dry, and place on a microwave-safe plate. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with lots of sea salt. Cook covered on high for 2-10 minutes, depending on your microwave and how soft you like it. Or, do a nice side salad with bitter chicories — radicchio would be beautiful with these. I like to dress mine in a 1:1 oil to red wine vinegar dressing that’s spiked with a little agave or maple syrup and a garlic clove. So bright with the bitter greens, and such a good counterpart to the savory meatballs.

  • • Feeling salty: Salt and taste as you go. I do not include exact measurements for salt because I don’t know what kind of salt you’re using, and different salts have different levels of saltiness.

PS: While you are here, why not give a try to our delicious vino! Click here to learn more. 

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