Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Noodles & meatballs!!

The title of this post is exactly what my daughters both scream whenever I ask them what they want to eat for dinner. I have to say, I owe a lot of my sanity to noodles and meatballs. It's not the most creative meal in the world, but it's something that my whole family likes, and it fills everybody up so that nobody's nosing through the snack shelf an hour after dinner ends.

Over the last few months, I have started making my own meatballs from scratch. First, it allows me to ensure that they are dairy-free (many store bought and restaurant meatballs contain parmesan cheese). Second, I like using high quality ground beef in my meatballs since my girls eat them so often and so voraciously. Third, I find it to be kind of satisfying. It just feels good to contribute something rustic and homemade to this standby pantry meal.

My earliest attempts at meatball-making were not 100% successful. Sometimes they were too dry, sometimes too mushy, sometimes bland, sometimes overly salty. But, having recently produced two deliciously tasty, perfectly textured batches of meatballs in a row, I feel like I've mastered the process. Here's how I make them:

Alyssa's Delicious Meatballs 


1 lb of ground beef
2 eggs
a few spoonfuls of pesto (I use a dairy-free pesto, but any pesto will work fine)
a few generous dashes of salt
a few generous dashes of oregano
just enough breadcrumbs so that you can form the mixture into a ball and it stays that way
1-2 jars of marinara sauce

Cooking process:

Using your hands, mush everything together until it's well-mixed. I liked to start with a small amount of breadcrumbs, and then keep adding until the consistency is just right. You can always add more breadcrumbs, but you can't take them away if you put in too much.

Form the meat mixture into balls as small or large as you want. I've had the best luck with balls about 1.5 inches in diameter. Drizzle some oil in a large skillet until it thinly coats the bottom. Once the oil is starting to get hot, place the meatballs in the skillet, leaving some room between them. (Even if you have a really big skillet, you will probably need to cook these in two batches.) After a few minutes, turn the meatballs with some tongs. Keep flipping/turning them around until they are browned all over.

Transfer all of the meatballs to a pot. Pour the marinara sauce over the meatballs and simmer until the meatballs are cooked all the way through. Serve over the noodles of your choice. For us, that's usually macaroni (girls) and cappellini (adults).

And if you don't have any dairy issues, this recipe can always enhanced by a generous handful of parmesan cheese.


  1. I suggest going to IKEA and picking up a bag of frozen Swedish meatballs with some sauce. Voila!

  2. I love pesto, never thought of adding to meatballs, thanks for the idea. Will be trying real soon.

  3. Oh, pesto in meatballs sounds wonderful...will have to try that, next time! Brilliant!