Giant Meatballs with Ricotta Recipe | Italian Recipes | PBS Food

Make marinara sauce from scratch for this giant meatballs recipe with ricotta from Martha Stewart's Cooking School.


Yield: 8 servings + 4 cups of marinara sauce

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  • Olive oil, for baking sheet
  • 3 cups (1/2-inch pieces) crusty white Italian bread, crusts removed
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 1 pound ground beef (80% lean)
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 medium onion, minced (3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • For the Marinara Sauce Recipe:
  • 3 ½ pounds fresh tomatoes, a mixture of plum and beefsteak, or two 28-ounce cans whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons best-quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, if desired


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly brush a rimmed baking sheet with oil; set aside.
  2. Place bread in a bowl and add milk to moisten. Chop bread into small pieces no larger than ¼-inch and place in a large bowl. Add veal, beef, pork, egg, onion, parsley, oregano, cheeses, salt and pepper. Using your hands, gently mix well until combined.
  3. Divide the mixture into 8 equal portions and roll each portion into a large meatball. Transfer meatballs to prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, bring the marinara sauce to a simmer in a large saucepan. Transfer the meatballs to the marinara sauce and simmer, partially covered, until cooked through, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately with additional Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  5. For the Marinara Sauce: Slice an X into the bottom of each tomato with a paring knife. Lower tomatoes into a pot of boiling water and blanch for 15 to 30 seconds. Use a slotted spoon or a spider to remove the tomatoes from the pot. Immediately plunge into an ice-water bath until cool enough to handle, about 30 seconds. Then pull off each peel, gripping the skin between your thumb and the flat part of the knife blade, starting at the X. Using the tip of your knife, remove cores. Tear beefsteak tomatoes into pieces.
  6. Heat oil and garlic, in a medium pot over medium heat until fragrant and sizzling, but not brown. Add tomatoes and season with 1 ½ teaspoons salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a rapid simmer and cook until tomatoes are falling apart and juice are reduced slightly, about 15 minutes.
  7. Working in batches, pass through a food mill fitted with the fine disk into a bowl, or puree in a food processor, straining out seeds if desired. If not serving immediately, let cool completely and store in an airtight container it the refrigerator up to 3 days, or the freezer for 3 months.
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