You’re probably surprised to see a recipe for giant meatballs (with herbed ricotta) here on LM, but I’ve been craving some restaurant favorites recently and for whatever reason, this one is popping into my mind a lot these days!
So meatballs aren’t a dish I’m apt to order of my own accord, but my husband is a big fan and I always liked the addition of protein! When we lived in Culver City, we frequented two restaurants in the downtown area that offered these giant meatballs as part of the appetizer/happy hour selection – A|R Cucina and Wildcraft.
I remember the first few times we ordered them…I obliged their selection, but when I dug in (usually with a grilled piece of bread in one hand), I was always so happy with the pick!
Giant Meatballs as Appetizer or Entree
Whenever I see recipes for meatballs as an appetizer, they’re always tiny and bite-sized. That’s fine (though usually they have some sweet sauce on them – often made with fruit jelly). Not my jam (hah!).
What I love about these meatballs is that they’re a hearty appetizer or a meal in and of themselves. You can share them as a starter or as a single serving for lunch or dinner!
I wholeheartedly recommend serving this setup with a big, crusty piece of bread and a nice glass of pinot noir, but obviously you do what sounds good!! We’re all about comfort these days!
What Type of Ground Meat?
This recipe calls for ground beef, but there are always questions… The most scrumptious and indulgent is obviously something like 80/20, but if that isn’t your cup of tea (it isn’t usually mine), there are other options.
You can always do a lower fat content. Any makeup should work here especially since you’re adding egg and baking them. The bed of herbed ricotta certainly helps as well!
If you aren’t into ground beef, you can certainly do ground pork. If you want to do ground turkey or chicken, I’d recommend getting the higher fat content to prevent them from drying out.
Another option is to combine meats – say turkey and beef. If you’re trying to cut back on red meat but want the flavor, this is a great way to go. The recipe instructions won’t change a bit!
Goat Cheese or Ricotta?
Ricotta cheese screams Italian to me, but I know (from my sister) that ricotta isn’t for everyone. You can easily do an herbed goat cheese instead of ricotta – not a problem! I do think goat cheese can be a bit dry, however, so you can easily add in some milk or plain yogurt to make it creamier! It’ll still be so delectable!
GIANT MEATBALLS w. HERBED RICOTTA
Craving those giant meatballs you have at restaurants for appetizers or atop your pasta? Then these will hit the spot. Delicious, tender meatballs atop herbed ricotta make the perfect dish!
- 1 pound ground beef
- ¼ cup Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¾ cup whole milk ricotta
- ¼ cup freshly grated or shredded parmesan
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
- ½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- Pinch fine sea salt
- Pinch ground black pepper
- 1 cup prepared marinara warmed
- Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Start by making the meatballs. Place the beef, bread crumbs, egg, basil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Use clean or gloved hands to mix all ingredients. Form into 4 round balls.
Place in a shallow baking dish (large enough that there is at least a ½ inch of space around each meatball). Bake for 28 to 30 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F.
While the meatballs bake, make the ricotta. Add the ricotta, 2 tablespoons of the parmesan, chives, parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper to a small bowl. Stir to combine all ingredients. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
To serve, spread two plates or shallow bowls each with half of the ricotta. Top each plate with two meatballs and marinara sauce. Garnish with the remaining parmesan and fresh parsley before serving.