Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs with Bucatini

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs with Bucatini
  
A hearty recipe for meatballs stuffed with little orbs of mozzarella and served in a rich tomato sauce with bucatini pasta noodles. Bucatini are essentially thick spaghetti with a unique twist that comes from having a hole down the middle like a tube. They’re plump and hefty and hold up well to these colossal meatballs.

The meatballs are seasoned with onion, garlic, oregano, parsley and Parmesan cheese, then each one is formed and stuffed with a fresh basil leaf and a baby ball of fresh mozzarella called bocconcini. They get briefly baked and then simmered in a gorgeous tomato sauce. The sauce infuses into the meatballs and the meatballs lend some of their flavor to the sauce. A win-win. Nothing spells home to me more than the smell of simmering sauce bubbling away on the stove. It’s the best kind of comfort I know.

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs with Bucatini

The meatballs have incredible flavor, moist and tender, they just about melt in your mouth with the molten, stringy middles that slowly ooze when you cut into them. They are perfectly matched with the soft, fat chewy noodles dripping with the fresh tasting, rosy red sauce. And just might be what makes my world go around.

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs and Bucatini

Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs and Bucatini
(by Reeni) (Makes about 25 meatballs depending on size)

Meatballs:
1 + 1/2 pound ground beef or ground pork/beef/veal mix 80-85% lean
1/2 cup onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated, plus more for serving
1/3 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
2 teaspoons oregano
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
1 pound bocconcini* or fresh mozzarella cut into 1/2-inch cubes
fresh basil leaves
Sauce:
1 large onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
Olive oil, for sauteing
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaping tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 bay leaves
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
2 (28 ounce) cans/boxes crushed or strained tomatoes (like Tuttorosso or Pomi)
a pinch or two of sugar
1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 pound of bucatini/perciatelli or spaghetti

1. In a large mixing bowl use a fork to combine all the meatball ingredients except mozzarella and basil.

2. Lightly grease a large baking sheet and preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Pat a small hunk of meat flat in the palm of your hand, place a basil leaf in the middle and a mozzarella ball. Form the meat evenly around it, pat it together well and roll it in the palm of your hand. Place on baking sheet and repeat until all the meat is used. Bake for 10 minutes.

3. In an extra large sauce pan over medium-low heat saute the onion and bell pepper in plenty of olive oil until soft and tender. Add garlic, Italian seasoning and bay leaves. Saute until garlic is fragrant. Add tomato paste, stir into onion mixture and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar and a 1/2 tomato paste can full of water. Carefully add meatballs. Bring to a simmer and simmer slowly for 35-45 minutes. Taste during and at the end seasoning the sauce as needed with additional herbs, salt and pepper. Add basil at the end and remove from heat. Serve with bucatini or spaghetti, Parmesan cheese and crusty Italian or garlic bread.

*Can be found on the olive bar in your market or with the specialty cheeses in the Italian section.

**Bucatini are also called perciatelli. I found them under the Ronzoni brand.

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Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs with Bucatini

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Barbecue Meatball Sandwiches with Onions and Cole Slaw

Barbecue Meatball Sandwiches with Onions and Cole Slaw

A homemade brown sugar barbecue sauce recipe with tender meatballs that can be made into sandwiches, eaten with buttered noodles, rice or potatoes. The barbecue sauce can also be used for chicken, steak or ribs. And even as a dipping sauce for french fries, all on it’s own or with a little mayonnaise or ranch dressing mixed in.

The sauce takes on a deep burgundy color and is sweet, tangy and silky. It is made from a base of ketchup with vinegar, brown sugar, mustard, molasses, chile powder and smoked paprika. The meatballs are simply seasoned with egg, bread crumbs, parsley, onion powder and oregano.

My favorite way of eating these is on a hard roll with cole slaw piled generously on top. The cole slaw is cold, milky and crunchy while the meatballs are warm, soft and richly-flavored. A recipe for success. They make a delicious, melt-in-your mouth combo. Finger-licking good comfort food.

Brown Sugar Barbecue Meatballs

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Barbecue Meatball Sandwiches with Onions and Coleslaw
(by Reeni except Barbecue Sauce adapted from Steven Raichlen via Serious Eats)

Brown Sugar Barbecue Sauce
2 cups Ketchup
1/3 cup White Vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
3/4 cup packed Brown Sugar + 2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon Molasses
2 tablespoons Yellow Mustard
1 tablespoon Chile Powder
1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper

Also need:
1 large Onion, thinly sliced in half moons
2-3 tablespoons Vegetable oil

Meatballs
1 + 1/4 pound Ground Beef 80-85% lean
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup Seasoned Bread Crumbs
1/4 cup Fresh Parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon Oregano
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
1/2 teaspoon Sea or Kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon Fresh Black Pepper

Also need:
Hard rolls, hamburger rolls, sub or hoagie rolls

1. Make cole slaw first, if using.

2. Whisk all the sauce ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.

3. In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan or soup pot saute onion in oil over medium-low heat until tender. (Work on meatballs while they saute.) When tender add barbecue sauce and bring to a slow simmer.

4. Meanwhile in a medium bowl combine all the meatball ingredients with a fork and form into small meatballs, measure out 4 teaspoons of the meat mixture, make a meatball and use as a guide to size the rest.

5. Pan-fry the meatballs in a lightly greased pan over medium heat on all sides until browned. You may need to work in two batches. Add the meatballs carefully to the barbecue sauce. Continue simmering for 25 – 30 minutes.

6. Serve on rolls with or without cole slaw over top or over buttered noodles, rice, potatoes or pasta.
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Barbecue Meatball Sandwich

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Cole Slaw

1/2 cup Mayonnaise (like Hellmann’s)
1 tablespoon White Vinegar
2 teaspoons Honey
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1 teaspoon Thyme
Pinch or two of Celery Seed
1/4 teaspoon Sea or Kosher Salt
Fresh Black Pepper, a couple of cracks
4-5 cups of Cole Slaw mix (like Dole) or shredded cabbage/carrot mix

1. In a large mixing bowl whisk together everything but the cabbage.

2. Start by mixing in four cups of cabbage and adding more if needed.

3. Refrigerate until serving.

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Barbecue Meatball Sandwich with Onions and Cole Slaw

I’m sending this to Deb of Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays round-up!


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Mini Meatball Chili

Mini Meatball Chili
A hearty recipe for no-alarm chili with mini meatballs. Chili is a staple in my diet and for that reason alone I re-invent it all the time. Eating the same chili over and over again tends to get pretty boring. As many of you know I have a small obsession with meatballs. I will sneak them in wherever and whenever I can. Through no fault of my own. Blame it on my Italian genes.

This is fairly quick and simple to make. The most time-consuming part is making the meatballs that are seasoned with the same flavors as the chili itself: onion, chile powder, cumin, smoked paprika and oregano. The spices for the chili are toasted alongside the sauteed onion and then diced tomato, cannelini beans and corn are stirred in along with the pan-fried meatballs. Once you get it all together dinner can be on the table in a half hour or less.

Where this is very rich with flavor it isn’t spicy with heat. It is adaptable to any kind of hot pepper you want to add in. I’m partial to chipotles. This is a good one for kids. They will love the tiny meatballs. As much as or more than the adults.

Mini Meatball Chili

Mini Meatball Chili
(by Reeni)

For the Meatballs:
1 pound Ground Beef
1 Egg, slightly beaten
1/4 cup seasoned Bread crumbs
1/4 cup Onion, minced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Chile powder
1 teaspoon Oregano
1/2 teaspoon Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Sea or Kosher alt
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
Vegetable Oil for sauteing

For the Chili:

Vegetable Oil for sautéing
1 large Onion, diced
1 tablespoon Chile powder
1 teaspoon Cumin
1 teaspoon Oregano
1/2 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
3/4 teaspoon Sea or Kosher salt (more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
14 and ½ ounce can Diced Tomatoes with juices
14 ounce can Cannelini Beans with juices
1 cup Corn
1/2 cup water

1. In a large bowl combine all the meatball ingredients using a fork. Measure out 2 teaspoons of meat mixture and form into a ball. Use this as a guide to form the rest of the meatballs. Heat a large skillet/saute pan over medium-low heat. Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil and cook meatballs until browned, about 3-4 minutes on each side.

2. While the meatballs are cooking in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot saute the onion in two – three tablespoons of oil with the chile powder, cumin, oregano, paprika, salt and pepper over low heat until soft. Add the tomatoes, beans, corn, and water and mix well. Gently stir in the meatballs.

3. Simmer for 25-30 minutes adding more water if mixture becomes too thick. Taste and re-season with salt or additional spices if needed during the cooking process and again before serving. Serve with toppings like sour cream, shredded cheese, tortilla chips, and with corn muffins or crusty bread.

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Mini Meatball Chili

Check out the next Burger Club Challenge hosted by Kim of Stirring the Pot!

I’m sending this over to Deb of Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays round-up!


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Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Wedding Soup

I have a hearty soup recipe today for Italian Wedding Soup. The name refers to the meat and vegetables marrying well together. Minestra Maritata means married soup. And it truly is a harmony of flavors with tasty, tender, little meatballs swimming in an herby broth with tubettini pasta, spinach, carrots, onion and garlic. It is the sort of soup you wish was served in a bottomless bowl…

This is a main course soup that is fairly quick and easy to make. Depending on how fast you get the meatballs made and the veggies chopped this can be ready for the table in about 45 minutes from start to finish.
 

Italian Wedding Soup
(by Reeni)
Meatballs:
1 pound Ground Beef, 80-85% lean
1/4 cup Bread Crumbs
2 tablespoons Parmesan Cheese
1 egg, beaten
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1/2 teaspoon Sea or Kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon Fresh Black Pepper
Soup:
1/2 cup Carrots, diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
2-3 tablespoons Olive Oil
Sea or Kosher salt and Fresh Black Pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Basil
6 cups Chicken Broth
1/2 – 2/3 cup Tubettini or Ditalini*
2/3 cup Chopped Spinach, frozen or 2 cups Fresh, chopped
1/4 cup Fresh Parsley, chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated, plus more for serving

1. Mix all the meatball ingredients together in a large bowl using a fork. Form into small meatballs about the size of a quarter using your hands. Set aside.

2. In a large soup pot saute onion and carrot in 2-3 tablespoons of Olive oil over medium-low heat until soft and tender, season well with salt and pepper. Add garlic and basil; saute until fragrant.

3. Add chicken broth and turn up heat and bring to a slow boil. When it begins to boil add meatballs carefully one at a time. Add tubettini and spinach. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 25 minutes.

4. Stir in parsley and Parmesan cheese. Taste and re-season with salt and pepper if desired. Serve with additional Parmesan and crusty bread.

*For a heartier soup with less broth add 2/3 cup pasta, for more broth add 1/2 cup.

Chipotle Meatball Chili

Chipotle Meatball Chili

The idea behind this recipe for Chipotle Meatball Chili was sparked by my Mom. She was busily making meatballs last week when I heard her say “I almost put Chile powder in the meatballs.” Chile powder in meatballs? I loved the sound of it! That’s how this Meatball Chili was born.

This was absolutely delicious! It was a complete and much-needed comfort meal paired with green tomato and Swiss cheese corn muffins. The meatballs are tender and very spicy with a crusty coating from pan-frying and are swimming in a sea of warm, zesty spices and sauteed aromatics surrounded by earthy white beans and crisp corn off the cob. So incredibly hearty and satisfying!

Chipotle Meatball Chili

Chipotle Meatball Chili
(by Reeni)

For the Meatballs:
1 pound ground beef
1 egg
1/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Chipotle peppers in Adobo, minced, and mashed with a fork
1 tablespoon parsley
2 teaspoons Chile powder
1 teaspoon Worcestshire sauce
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Oil for sautéing

For the Chili:
Oil for sautéing
1 large onion, diced
1 green pepper, thinly sliced in 1-inch long pieces
1-2 jalepenos, diced, seeds and ribs removed(for extra heat add them in)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Chipotle peppers in Adobo, minced and mashed with a fork
1 tablespoon Chile powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons oregano
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
14 and ½ ounce can diced tomatoes with juices
1 can small white beans or cannelini beans with juices
1 ear of corn or ½ cup frozen or canned(drained) corn
1/2 cup water

In a large bowl combine all the meatball ingredients. Heat a large skillet/saute pan over medium-low heat. Add a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil. Form the meatballs into 1-inch or smaller size meatballs. Place in heated oil and brown on all sides in two batches.

While the meatballs are cooking saute the onion, green pepper, and jalepenos in a tablespoon or two of oil in a large heavy-bottomed sauce pan or soup pot. When the onion and pepper are softened add the garlic and chipotle pepper. Saute for an additional 3-4 minutes. Add the meatballs as they are browned along with the seasonings, tomatoes, undrained beans, corn, and water. The mixture will seem thick at first but the tomatoes will cook down and release their juices. Simmer for 25-30 minutes, taste and re-season if needed during the cooking and before serving. Serve with toppings like sour cream, shredded cheese, tortilla chips/strips, corn muffins, or crusty bread.

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I’m sending this over to Deb of Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sunday(soup, sammie, or salad) round-up!

Chipotle Meatball Chili


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Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti & Meatballs

On Top of Spaghetti
All covered with cheese,
I lost my poor meatball
When somebody sneezed.
It rolled off the table
And onto the floor,
And then my poor meatball
Rolled right out the door!


I always use a lot of Parmesan cheese on my spaghetti and meatballs, a habit I picked up when I was just a little girl. When I ate at my Grandparents I would use up all the Parmesan in their tiny glass shaker. Grandpa didn’t mind. He would always get me more. Sometimes it would take a long time. I used to wonder if he went all the way to Italy to get it for me. But what I didn’t know then I know now. He was freshly grating it and that takes time. Even if we were in the middle of eating he would get up and take the time and the trouble to get it for me. Grandpa serenaded me with the “On top of spaghetti song” all the time. It still plays in my head occasionally and as corny as it is I don’t mind, cause my Grandpa was the best.

Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs is another one of those all-time favorite classics. I can’t think of anything more joyful then sitting down to a plate piled high with twirly spaghetti and tender meatballs! When your in the moment nothing else matters but getting those elusive spaghetti strings to stay wrapped around your fork with just the perfect size bite of herb and garlic infused meatball. Only to pop said forkful into your mouth and forget about everything else while you savor the pure bliss that has found its way to your tongue. Pure and delicious comfort food.

Spaghetti & Meatballs

Spaghetti & Meatballs
(by Reeni)

Meatballs:
1 cup crustless white bread/Italian bread, preferably stale, diced
Whole Milk
1 and 1/2 pounds beef/pork/veal mixture or an 80-85% Ground Beef
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
1/3 cup onion, diced small
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh Parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon Basil
1 teaspoon Oregano
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
Vegetable or Canola Oil, if frying

Place the diced bread crumbs in a small bowl and add enough milk to soak them thoroughly.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl add all of the ingredients except the vegetable oil including the bread crumbs and milk. Use a fork or your hands to combine thoroughly without over mixing.

Use your hands to form 2-inch (golfball) sized meatballs. Place on a baking sheet or large baking pan and bake for 15 minutes. If you prefer to fry them heat about 1/4 inch Canola oil in a large, deep, skillet over medium heat. Brown them on all sides in two or three batches being sure not to overcrowd the pan. Drain on paper towels.

While the meatballs are baking/frying get your sauce started.

Sauce:
1 large onion, diced
1 green pepper, julienned
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 can tomato paste
2 28 oz. can Crushed Tomatoes (like Tuttarosa)
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons dried Italian Seasonings (We use a mix that has basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram and rosemary in it)
1 teaspoon dried sage
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt (to start and more to taste)
¼ teaspoon black pepper (to start and more to taste)
1 teaspoon Sugar

In an extra-large stock pot sauté the onion and green pepper in Olive Oil until soft;
add garlic and sauté for two or three more minutes.

Add tomato paste. Stir it into the onion mixture and let it heat through. Add tomatoes, water, seasonings including bay leaves, salt, pepper and sugar.

Add the meatballs and simmer for at least 35-40 minutes(the longer, the better),
stirring occasionally and tasting to check the seasoning. Add salt/pepper and more
dried herbs if needed. You can also add a little more water if sauce seems too thick.
Remove bay leaves before serving.

Serve over spaghetti cooked to al dente sprinkled with fresh shredded Parmesan cheese.

Printable Recipe

Spaghetti & Meatballs

So if you like spaghetti
All covered with cheese
Hold on to your meatballs
And DON’T EVER SNEEZE!
A-A-A-CHOO !!