These mascarpone meatballs are so tender and flavorful they just melt in your mouth. Fragrant with herbs and just a hint of spice they pair beautifully with a variety of sauces for pasta or just sop them up with a crusty loaf of bread for a quick and filling lunch.I love them paired with fresh vegetables and a roasted pepper sauce - my Farmer's Market Pasta.
Like many people I have beautiful memories of my Mom making tomato sauce and meatballs. It was an all day affair that mostly involved shooing me out of the kitchen. This was probably wise since when Mom wasn't looking I would take one of her worn wooden spoons and scoop out a meatball to eat. So hot I would almost burn my tongue, but so worth it for the way they fell apart when bitten into, sauce dripping from the wooden spoon.
The best moments were when Mom would actually call me into the kitchen to stand with her at the stove and scoop out meatballs and sauce for us to eat for lunch with thick slices of Italian bread that was dense enough to withstand the mighty force of Mom's tomato sauce but still tender to the tooth. To this day when I eat spaghetti and meatballs I crave a glass of skim milk and a green salad - just like Mom served it.
These aren't Mom's meatballs, I still don't know her secret recipe, but these are wonderful meatballs and they pair deliciously with all of the fresh vegetables in the rest of the dish.
Mascarpone Meatballs ~ makes approximately 50
14 oz ground beef
7 oz ground pork
7 oz ground veal
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup mascarpone
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup panko
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon whole milk
Mix together the panko and milk to make a panada. Set aside.
Preheat oven tp 350º F. Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Set aside.
In a large bowl combine all other ingredients, adding the panada last. Combine well. Make even sized meatballs and place evenly spaced on cookie sheet. I use my tablespoon to measure out even portions before quickly rolling them in my hands to form balls.
Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until meatballs reach an internal temperature of 155º F. While meatballs are cooking make the sauce.
Farmer's Market Sauce ~ serves 4
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups zucchini, sliced
2 cups onions, sliced
1 small eggplant, sliced lengthwise
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes
3 red or yellow peppers, charred
oregano to taste
salt & pepper to taste
Slice and salt the eggplant to draw out the bitterness. Set aside. Char your peppers and remove skin. Remove stems and seeds, pulse in a food processor or blender. Add a little water if you need to thin it. Set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil. When oil begins to shimmer add onions and zucchini. Cook until beginning to turn brown. Rinse off eggplant and cut into cubes; add to skillet. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and oregano. Add tomatoes and pureed peppers.
While sauce is cooking make your pasta; I like to use a bulky, short pasta with chunky sauces like this. Toss the cooked pasta in with the sauce and add about 5-6 meatballs per person. Refrigerate or freeze the rest of the meatballs for another meal.
Serve hot garnished with fresh parsley.