Meatballs are something I would basically never order at a restaurant.
They never sound particularly appealing to me, whether on a sandwich or topping a plate of pasta.
But then, occasionally, I’ll make them at home and I think, “I LOVE meatballs.”
And these were no exception – they were so fantastic. Not too dense, bursting with flavor, and in a great sauce.
Also, while typically meatballs go over pasta, I toasted some sourdough bread (PSA: the sourdough bread at Winco is pretty much the best bread on the face of the planet) and we just ate it with that, alongside a salad.
Even the girls liked it, which made me enjoy dinner that much more.
Baked Meatballs in Tomato Cream Sauce
(adapted from Valerie’s Kitchen)
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 14-oz cans Italian-style diced tomatoes
1/3 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
1/2 yellow onion
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1-1/4 pounds lean ground meat (turkey, chicken, or beef all work fine)
1/2 cup shredded fresh mozzarella
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil (optional)
In a large oven-safe skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook about 3 minutes, until it starts to soften. Add the tomato paste, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring constantly, about 30 seconds.
Stir in the canned tomatoes and then salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to a simmer and let it cook while you prep the meatballs.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil and set aside.
In a food processor, pulse the onion until it is finely diced. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until well-combined. Roll the mix into meatballs about the size of golf balls (I used a cookie scoop) and place on the baking sheet. Cook for 15 minutes – it’s okay if they aren’t cooked quite all the way through.
Take the sauce off the heat and stir in the cream or half and half. Add the meatballs to the pan of sauce, sprinkle the two cheeses over the top and put in the oven to bake until the cheese on top is bubbling and the meatballs are cooked through, 10-15 minutes.
Garnish with the fresh basil, if you’re using it. Serve warm over pasta or with french or garlic bread.