I happened to tweet one night that I had made the best meatballs of my life. Easy Pesto Meatballs. Suddenly there was a chorus of requests for the recipe, so here I am! This is an amalgamation of a couple of recipes that I took, combined, and made into my own thing. And damn. It was good. So very very good. I don’t think I’ve ever had such tender, delicious meatballs. Melt in ya mouth, people.
The first part of the recipe comes from Slow Cooker Revolution from those marvelous guys at the America’s Test Kitchen. I love their cookbooks and this is my newest acquisition in the series (and the first recipe I’ve made from it!). We had a reason to celebrate this week and one of my daughters favorite meals is Spaghetti and Meatballs. As I was off Wednesday and had the time, I made the meatballs. However, I did not use the slow cooker. I took the ingredients and most of the recipe, but then I just cooked them in my cast iron skillet. I’m going to give you the recipe as written, then tell how I changed it.
Easy Pesto Meatballs
Adapted from Slow Cooker Revolution
1 pound 85 percent lean ground beef or ground turkey (I used the beef)
2/3 cup plain bread crumbs (I used Pepperridge Farm Herb Dressing all smooshed up)
2/3 cup fresh basil pesto (they gave a recipe, but I used my own, coming soon down there…)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (which I left out because I put it in my pesto)
1 large egg yolk (I used the whole egg)
2 (24 ounce) jars tomato sauce (5 cups) (I used some of the sauce I canned from last years tomatoes)
1/2 cup water
Salt and Pepper
1. Mix ground meat, bread crumbs, pesto, parmesan, and egg yolk in bowl using hands. Pinch off and roll mixture into 1 1/2 inch meatballs (about 12 meatballs total) (I got about 19, guess I made them smaller than they did, but they were plenty big). Microwave the meatballs on a large plate until fat renders and meatballs are firm, 5 to 7 minutes. (I didn’t do that.)
2. Stir tomato sauce and water into slow cooker (I added the sauce to my pan after I cooked the meatballs [and strained off the grease]). Nestle meatballs into slow cooker, discarding the rendered fat. Cover and cook until meatballs are tender, 4 to 6 hours. (I browned my meatballs until cooked through, added the sauce and let it simmer for about 30 minutes.)
3. Let meatballs and sauce settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using a large spoon. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Here is the pesto recipe I used:
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Canning Magazine 2012
3 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves (about 3 ounces) (I used a combination of basil and African Blue basil)
2/3 cup pine nuts and/or walnuts (I used 1/3 cups of each)
2/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, quartered (I think I used 6) (love the garlic and I need to keep Edward away)
1/2 teaspoon salt (didn’t use)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1. In a food processor or blender, combine basil, nuts, cheese, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Cover and process or blend until nearly smooth, stopping to scrape the sides as necessary.
2. Ladle pesto into a sterilized half-pint jar, leaving a 1/2 inch headspace. Seal and label. (Place any remaining pesto in an airtight storage container.) Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. To freeze, transfer to a freezer-safe container. Seal and label. Freeze for up to 3 months. Makes 1 1/4 cups.
If you make this, I’d love to hear what you think!
Weekend Cooking hosted by BethFishReads every weekend. It is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.