If you really really want to impress someone, THIS is the dish to make. It takes a little time but it is super easy… and really so completely delicious.
You can use either turkey or beef for the meatballs… believe it or not, I used turkey and nobody knew. They are that good!
As the sauce simmers it becomes rich and flavorful and just tastes very fresh. While the sauce is simmering, the meatballs can be prepared and baked.
Once you’ve seen how easy it is to make your own sauce, you will never go back!
Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs in Homemade Tomato Sauce
- 2 pounds ground turkey or beef
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (if using turkey)
- 1/2 an onion finely chopped
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil (or 1 teaspoon dried basil)
- 2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
- 3/4 pound fresh mozzarella cut into small cubes
- 1 onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes with juice
- 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
- 1/2 teaspoon white sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 lemon (for zest only)
Using a veggie peeler, peel off two very thin pieces of lemon zest making sure only to get the yellow part (not the white).
Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion & garlic and cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add remaining sauce ingredients. Reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375.
Cut mozzarella into 24 small squares, set aside.
Mix together turkey or beef, olive oil (if using turkey) onion, egg, panko bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, parsley, basil, and pepper. Mix just until combined (over mixing will create tough meatballs).
Divide meat into 24 even pieces. Wrap each piece around a piece of cheese. Roll into a ball ensuring all of the cheese is completely covered by the turkey mixture.
Place on a pan lined with parchment paper. Bake 30 minutes (a little of the cheese may leak out of some of the meatballs, that's ok, there will still be more inside!)
Remove meatballs from the oven, stir into the sauce and let simmer an additional 20 minutes.
Serve on pasta.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)
This recipe was inspired by Allrecipes.com.