Pork and Ricotta Meatballs


  • 4 slices sandwich bread, crusts removed and torn into small pieces
  • 8 oz (1 cup) whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 lbs ground pork
  • 1 oz (1 cup) grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest


  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 (28 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped

For the Meatballs:

  • heat oven to 450F
  • place a wire rack in aluminum foil-lined baking sheet
  • spray foil evenly with vegetable oil spray
  • combine bread and ricotta in large bowl, mashing occasionally until smooth paste is formed (approx 10 min)
  • add pork, 1/2 cup Parmesan, parsley, eggs, shallots, garlic, salt, pepper and lemon zest to bread mixture
  • mix until thoroughly combined
  • roll mixture into meatballs (1/4 cup each)
  • place on wire rack
  • roast until brown (30-35 minutes)
  • remove from oven, reduce temperature to 300F

For the Sauce:

  • combine oil and garlic in Dutch oven set over low heat
  • cook garlic until soft and golden on all sides, stirring occasionally
  • add pepper flakes and cook until fragrant (approx 30 secs)
  • stir in tomatoes and 1 tsp salt
  • cover, with lid slightly ajar and simmer until sauce has thickened slightly (approx 30 min)
  • season with salt and pepper to taste

Last Step:

  • nestle meatballs into sauce, cover and put into oven
  • bake until meatballs are tender and sauce thickens (30 min)
  • transfer meatballs and sauce to serving platter
  • sprinkle with Basil
  • serve with extra Parmesan

Note:  For a reduced salt version reduce salt to 1/2 Tbsp in the meatballs recipe

(Source:  Cook’s Country, November 2015)