EATS: Meatballs with Tomato Sauce


March 22, 2013 by annmquintero

Amazons, I have a new toy! I got a bug up my butt to make meatballs with tomato sauce and while researching methods came across a brilliant idea to use julienned zucchini as noodles. Julienning things is a huge pain in the keister, so I started looking up lazy ways to make that happen. And I found a julienne slicer! Holy crap! I’m gonna julienne everything from now on! With one little gizmo, my life has changed. This is gonna be great for summer salads of cucumbers and jicama and daikon radishes. I feel like such a nerd for being this excited about a kitchen tool, but I can’t help it! It feels like Christmakwanzaakah all over again!

But back to the meatballs.

IMG_0267Mmmm…  meatballs. You may not know this about me, Amazons, but I used to have a serious problem with acid reflux. An inconvenience for your average citizen, but a nightmare for a singer. For over a year, I gave up tomatoes, garlic, onions, caffeine, citrus, mint, spice, carbonation… the list was, to say the least, extensive, and seemed to include everything delicious in the world. That year of blandness allowed my system to heal to the point where I could start adding some of these things back in, though carbonation is still a no-no for me. Before the reflux, I used to relish meatballs in tomato sauce. Since then I’d had to become much more selective about when I’d indulge. Funny thing though, I discovered that if I just ate the meatballs and sauce, without pasta or bread, I didn’t have nearly the trouble I did with them…

Huh. Imagine that.

So, this is a celebration of all that is meaty and bright and homey and savory! Invite your friends over and share your balls of love! (Yeah, I said it.)

What you’ll need:

Sauce pan with lid (for sauce)

Large deep skillet with lid (for browning meatballs)

Skillet (for zucchini noodles)



Large bowl

Disher or ice cream scoop


Ground beef, 1 lb

Ground pork, 1 lb

Onion, ½, minced

Garlic, 2-3 cloves, minced

Italian seasoning, 1 tablespoon

Eggs, 2, beaten

Almond meal, ½ cup

Parmesan or Pecorino, ½ cup, grated

Nutmeg, 2 teaspoons, freshly grated

Italian flat leaf parsley, a handful, chopped

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Tomato sauce

Canned or boxed tomatoes, (2) 28 oz cans

Onion, ½, minced

Garlic, 2-3 cloves, minced

Crushed red pepper (surprise me)

Fresh basil, chopped

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Zucchini noodles

Zucchini, 1 per serving, julienned

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

First thing you want to do is get your tomato sauce going. Sauté your minced onion and garlic in a little olive oil in the bottom of your saucepan on medium heat. Once they’ve softened a bit, add your crushed red pepper and a little salt. Then dump all your crushed/diced tomato product on top and stir. Add your fresh, chopped basil, cover, and let simmer on low while you make your meatballs.

In your large, deep skillet, gently cook the minced onion and garlic over low-medium heat in a touch of olive oil. Once they’ve softened, let them cool off. (You could start this at the same time you start your sauce.) Put all the ingredients (including your cooled off onions and garlic) in a large bowl together, pull out your trusty gloves, and start mixing by hand. You don’t want to beat the hell out of the mixture. Just work it together so that it seems fairly evenly distributed.

IMG_0265Get your deep skillet good and hot with a little oil in it, and start forming meatballs. Now, maybe you like a dense meatball, but I prefer them soft and light. This is where your disher or ice cream scoop is gonna be your best friend. I scooped with my dominant hand, formed lightly with my non-dominant hand and dropped directly into the hot pan. Trust me, you can finish the formation of a meatball with one hand. And it’ll prevent you from obsessively rolling them into super-bouncy racquetballs (I’ve certainly never done such a thing!).

You want to get a hard sear on the outside of the meatballs, turning them gently with the tongs to get as much of the outside brown as you can. Don’t worry about cooking the meatballs through at this point. We’re going to finish them in your tomato sauce.

I chose to ladle sauce over meatballs, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. But you could just as easily drop the meatballs into your pot of sauce, cover and simmer there. You can also simmer for a lot longer than 20 minutes. The longer the meatballs cook in the sauce, the more they’ll soak up that flavor. And if your sauce is getting too dry? No biggie! Add some water. It’s no problem.

IMG_0266Now for the zucchini noodles! Zomg! Pull out your julienne slicer! Or a mandolin. Or you could julienne by hand or in the food processor. Or I might try to slice with a regular veggie peeler and then slice into ribbons lengthwise by hand. Anyway, zucchini! Get it into ribbons, drop into a hot pan with a touch of oil. Salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes or less, just enough to heat through. Top with meatballs and sauce. Maybe garnish with cheese.

Sidenote: The cheese in these meatballs is completely optional. The only difference would be that you would need to add a lot more salt. The cheese essentially acts as the salt component of the meatballs.

As a little concluding treat, I’d like to share with you a site passed along to me by my brother. This is much closer to how I really talk in the kitchen (I clean it up a lot for the blog). Warning. Strong language: Thug Kitchen.


(If this is your first time reading EATS, I encourage you to check out the Introductions post for my philosophy and list of must-have kitchen items.)


One thought on “EATS: Meatballs with Tomato Sauce

  1. […] at the grocery store, the ground lamb was calling to me, and I built a meal around that. Much like our last meatball adventure, this takes a little time, but it’s worth […]

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