Baked Cheesy Meatballs

The perfect tender, flavourful meatballs nestled in a scandalously easy sauce and layers of oozy cheese!

 Course Main Course
 Prep Time 45 minutes
 Cook Time 55 minutes
 Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
 Servings 4

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 1 lb spicy Italian sausage (casings removed)
  • 1 lb extra lean ground beef
  • 1 cup grated parmesan or romano cheese
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 large or 2 medium garlic cloves (minced)
  • 2 tsp each kosher salt and cracked pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste, depending on how spicy your sausages are)
  • 2 large eggs (beaten)
  • 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (don’t use old dried ones, better to tear bread into small pieces)
  • 1 1/4 to 2 cups milk
  • olive oil

Sauce

  • 1 28 oz (796 ml) can of San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion (cut in half, or for the baked meatballs, sliced thinly)
  • Salt to taste

Baked Cheesy Meatballs

  • 8 oz (225 g) grated provolone cheese
  • 4 oz (115 g) fresh mozzarella cheese (sliced)
  • 2 tbsp fresh oregano (chopped)
  • Pasta (the type you want to use, spaghetti, penne, rigatoni etc)

Instructions

TO MAKE THE MEATBALLS

  1. This recipe makes 20-24 meatballs. You may only be using 8 (to feed 4) of them for the baked meatball recipe. You can freeze the rest of the unmade meatballs for your next dinner.

  2. Combine the sausage and beef in a large bowl. Using only your fingers (remove any rings!), break up and mix sausage meat into the beef until gently combined (don’t overwork, or the meat will become tough when cooking them)
  3. Add the grated cheese, parsley and garlic. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne. Better to add less and adjust later- you don’t know how seasoned the sausages are.  Add the beaten eggs. Next add the breadcrumbs and mix till everything is just blended (don’t over blenf and only use only your finger tips).

  4. Add one cup of the milk, mix. Let sit for a minute to soak up the milk. Continue to add milk, 1/4 cup at a time, until the mixture has achieved the a sticky, moist consistency. The amount of milk you will need will depend on the breadcrumbs.  And the mixture should be very moist and sticky!

  5. Break off a small piece, form it into a small patty about the size of a quarter and sauté it in lightly oiled sauté pan. Taste this. Adjust your seasonings to the rest in the bowl at this point if needed. This way you haven’t formed the meatballs in vain!
  6. Pat down the mixture in the bowl, and gently use the side of your hand to visually divide the mixture in half. This way you’ll know how many meatballs you are creating (you want 10-12 from each half)
  7. Using lightly oiled or wet hands, shape the mixture into 2-2.5″ balls. (If you see the photos above, you will see that this size means about 4 across, and 6 rows of them, fit onto the average sized baking sheet).Place onto a baking sheet. You can either bake them all off as stated below, only bake off what you need and freeze the rest, or freeze them all and then take out what you need when the mood strikes. Freezing directions are below.

  8. For Baked Meatballs:

    Take the amount of meatballs you need and put into a lightly oiled baking dish or casserole dish. The size of the dish will depend on the amount of meatballs you want to bake off. To feed four people you may only need 8-12 meatballs. Just leave room for approx 2.5 cups of sauce.

  9. Preheat the oven to 450F
  10. Bake for the meatballs for 15 minutes uncovered, until the meatballs are crisping up on the outside, but not done on the inside. Remove from the oven.

  11. In the meantime, prepare your sauce.

FOR THE Baked version of the SAUCE

  1. Take the can of tomatoes, as well as all juices and blend using a blender or food processor. Alternatively, you can squish the tomatoes in a bowl to a small chunk using your fingers.

  2. For the baked meatball sauce, add the onion slices and seasonings to the blended tomatoes in the blender.

    Pour the tomato mixture over the par-baked meatballs, and dot with 4 tbsp of softened butter. Cover with foil.

  3. Bake for another 25 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.
  4. While meatballs are baking, prepare your pasta of choice and drain well.
  5. Remove the meatballs and sauce from the oven. Sprinkle the entire dish with the provolone cheese and then layer the fresh mozzarella over this. Do not replace the foil. Bake uncovered for another 10 minutes till the cheese is melted and golden.

  6. Sprinkle the entire dish with fresh, chopped oregano. Serve over favourite pasta (which you prepared while the cheese was melting).

SAUCE

  1. If just wanting to make the sauce without the baking part of the recipe, feel free to use a large jar of homemade tomatoes: 1litre (4 cup) Mason jar.

    You will just need to cook the sauce down longer till you get the consistency you like.

  2. The sauce is wonderful on its own, a very flavourful and yet light sauce. If just making a pot of sauce, pour the crushed tomatoes into a pot, add salt, cut the onion in half and lay cut side down into the sauce.
  3. Add 5 tbsp of butter (for baked recipe above I cut down the amount butter, since there was already olive oil in the baking pan).

  4. Simmer, partially covered for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Remove the onion, which will have imparted all its goodness into the sauce (unless of course you want to eat those softened pieces on velvety onion!

    Season with salt and pepper.

  5. If you just want to prepare the meatballs and sauce, take the amount of meatballs you want, place them on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 450F.  Remove from the oven.The sauce should be started at the same time on the stove top.

    When the sauce is about half way through cooking, add the meatballs and let them simmer in the sauce until everything is ready.

Recipe Notes

This is really 3 recipes in one. The meatballs can be made anytime. Place uncooked ones onto a parchment lined baking sheet and put the baking sheet into the freezer. Once frozen you can place them into a freezer bag and store until needed.

You can also make the sauce in advance.

By combining the meatballs, sauce and cheese, you have achieved a case of where the total is greater than the sum of the parts. Enjoy!

source: https://thelemonapron.com/cheesy-baked-meatballs/

Recipes From Nature

Hi, I’m Nina! I'm a culinary school graduate sharing easy, healthy recipes rich in seasonal produce and whole foods. Let's get cooking!