Tonight's Dinner: Ricotta meatballs

Jan 19, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. ET

Meatballs are pretty standard when it comes to spaghetti, but they can add even more heft to an already heavy meal. Add some ricotta cheese and cook them in chopped tomatoes and you get a light, filling meal that doesn't need pasta.

Meatballs with tomato sauce

Meat is a must for me and my family when it comes to pasta. It doesn't matter if we're doing spaghetti, lasagna or ravioli. If there's pasta and tomato sauce, there's always meat. Although I don't make meatballs often, I never turn them down when they're presented. Part of the reason I rarely make the meaty addition is that they're so heavy. They're always delicious, but the little balls usually end up sitting in my stomach like stones. Luckily Michael Symon has figured out a way to make them light and airy and just as filling. He simply added ricotta cheese. They're still delicious, but by simmering them in a thick tomato sauce, you don't even need the pasta -- they're the perfect dinner all by themselves.

Ricotta meatballs

Serves 8


  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine (like Merlot)


  1. Mix together beef, pork, egg, ricotta, Parmesan, one teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and flour in a large bowl until well combined. Shape meat mixture into one-inch balls.
  2. Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry up the meatballs until golden brown and no longer pink in the centers. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. In the same skillet, heat the remaining olive oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion and garlic until tender, about three minutes. Stir in the wine, scraping up the browned bits with a wooden spoon. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and add the meatballs. Let the meatballs and tomato sauce simmer for 30-45 minutes. Serve with a nice crusty bread.

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