Mouthwatering Meatballs


MouthWatering Meatballs w/ Red Wine Tomato Sauce & Ricotta stuffed Garlic Bread

So, of course I would love to use my own roasted tomatoes for a sauce (freezing some for the winter during the summer is a MUST), but sometimes canned is the best way to go. It is an easy option, great for when making for a crowd, and especially when tomatoes aren't sweet & in season. 


Red Wine Tomato Sauce:

  • 1 sweet onion, small dice or grated
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 Cups Red Wine, I used Sauvignon Cabernet
  • 3 24 oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
  • salt, to taste


  • 6 strips bacon, cut into lardons
  • 1 lb spicy Italian sausage, ground or out of its casing
  • 1 lb ground beef, I like chuck
  • 2 cups parmesan, freshly grated, divided
  • 2 slices white bread, best day old or stale
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup ricotta
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup Parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh Thyme, OR 1 tsp dried
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt, to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil

Ricotta stuffed Garlic Bread:

  • Italian Bread
  • 6 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup parmesan, freshly grated
  • 2 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt, to taste


  1. First, start with the Red Wine Tomato Sauce. Begin by heating a large sauce pot over medium heat. I love an enameled Dutch Oven, I have 3 & cook just about everything in them. Add extra virgin olive oil, and sweet onion. Saute until soft and translucent, seasoning with a pinch of salt. You can even take it further & caramelize them, which is what I always do with onions. Just take them low & slow and let the natural sugars come out & help brown the onions. 
  2. Once your onions are where you like them, take your minced garlic and add it to the pot. I. LOVE. GARLIC. So, if you are not a garlic fan, please do not use as much as me. I minced 5 cloves, but 2-3 would work great too. Stir the garlic around until fragrant. About 30-60 seconds. 
  3. Add the tomato paste and mix in with the onions and garlic, and let cook for about 1 minute. Now, for the fun part, red wine! First, take a sip of red wine for yourself because, why not? Make sure to use a red wine you enjoy drinking, but no need to break the bank. Also, you can skip the red wine all together, and replace with vegetable or beef stock. Now, pour the red wine into the pan with the onions, garlic, & tomato paste to deglaze, & scrape the bottom of the pan to get all of those amazing flavors. 
  4. Next, add the cans of crushed tomatoes, a pinch of salt, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, & sugar. Taste for seasoning, bring to a boil, then let simmer on low for about an hour. Discard bay leaf before serving.
  5. On to the Mouthwatering Meatballs. In a large bowl add ground beef, spicy Italian sausage, bacon, 1 cup parmesan, ricotta, panko, red pepper flakes, eggs, parsley, oregano, thyme, & garlic. In a small bowl place day old white bread & pour milk on top. Mix around then add to meatball mixture, & mix everything together until incorporated. Using your hands, or a large cookie scoop make meatballs with the mixture. I like to make large balls, 2 1/2 in. in diameter, about 20 total but you can make whatever size you like. The cooking times may vary. 
  6. Once you've formed all of your meatballs, heat up a skillet to medium-high heat. Add some extra virgin olive oil & start browning the meatballs on all sides. You will probably have to do these in multiple batches, set browned meatballs in casserole dish. You are not cooking the meatballs through, just browning the outside for flavor, and of course looks. If you have tons of time, ideally this is a great step to actually do before you start the sauce, then add the onions and go from there. The browning of the meat adds flavor to the sauce, and also saves a dish from getting dirty, but I realize we don't all have the time for an all day meatball adventure. Although that sounds fun to me. 
  7. Preheat oven to 325 F. 
  8. Once all of your meatballs are browned & in the casserole dish, spoon the delicious red wine tomato sauce over them. Not all of your sauce, save that for spaghetti, meatball subs, sauce for a meatball pizza, honestly the choices are endless. Just spoon enough sauce so the meatballs look like they are chillin in the bath, not drowning in the ocean. Now sprinkle the remaining cup of parmesan on the top of the meatballs and place uncovered in the oven for 1-1 1/2 hours. Until the sauce reduces & the meatballs look browned, & delicious. 
  9. While the meatballs are cooking in the oven, make the Ricotta Stuffed Garlic Bread. Start by cutting your loaf in half length wise, like you are making a giant sandwich, which sounds so good right now. Next, take 1/4 of your softened butter, and in a small sauce pan melt the butter over medium low heat, then add minced garlic. Cook until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds. Set to the side & let cool. Mix together remaining butter, ricotta, parmesan, parsley, a pinch of salt, and the garlic w/ butter. Spread mixture on both sides of the bread and lay open face on a baking sheet. 
  10. When your meatballs are done cooking, pull them out of the oven & set aside to rest. Turn the oven up to 425 F, and toast the bread until a little crunchy on the outside, and the cheese & butter start to brown, about 5-7 minutes. Slice with a bread knife, & garnish with fresh parsley for serving. 
  11. Serve Meatballs with some spaghetti, your red wine tomato sauce, & ricotta garlic bread. Enjoy!
Kelsey CangeloseComment