Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Writer – Silvia Todesco #Italian Cookery – Ricotta and beef meatballs. An Italian classic!-

Last week Silvia Todesco created a delicious appetizer for us and you can find the recipe: White Onion, bacon and blue cheese savoury pie

This week we move on to the main courses with an Italian classic recipe – Ricotta and beef meatballs. 


In the collective mind of Americans, spaghetti with meatballs is one of the most popular Italian dishes.

Actually, this is partly true, considering that in Southern Italy they do dress spaghetti with meatballs and sauce.

But since I come from Northern Italy, I grew up eating just the meatballs as a main dish, possibly accompanied by mashed potatoes. The meatball recipe I’m excited to be sharing with you this week is one of my grandmother’s “classics”!

She used to make a lot of meatballs all at one time, and then she cooked part of them immediately by simply frying them in olive oil. The rest were cooked in a tomato sauce, and eaten in the next few days. This is why I give you the quantities for a big pan of meatballs; they are just as delicious as left-overs, or you can freeze them, without loosing any of the taste.

Meatballs are a simply delicious meal, and like many other dishes that I’ve already described in my past posts, this one also finds its roots in the tradition of the Veneto Region.

Ingredients for the meatballs

  • 2 lbs. ground beef (1 kg. carne macinata)
  • 1 lb. plain Italian sausage- without fennel seeds (1/2 Kg. salsiccia)
  • 1 lb. ricotta (1/2 kg. ricotta)
  • 3 eggs (3 uova)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (1 pugno grana)
  • sea salt to taste, I suggest about 3 pinches (3 bei pizzichi di sale)
  • 2 pinches nutmeg (2 pizzichi noce moscata)
  • 1 pinch dry rosemary (1 pizzico rosmarino)
  • 1 tsp. fresh or dry parsley (1 cucchiaino di prezzemolo)
  • optional: a clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs (1 pugno pan grattato)
  • all purpose flour for breading (farina per la panatura)
  • olive oil or vegetable oil for frying (olio d’oliva per friggere)

Ingredients for the Tomato Sauce

  • 5 tbs. olive oil (5 cucchiai d’olio d’oliva)
  • 30 oz. (2 cans) tomato sauce (2 barattoli di polpa di pomodoro)
  • 1/2 medium white onion, chopped (mezza cipolla tritata)
  • 1 clove of garlic (1 spicchio d’aglio)
  • salt and pepper to taste (sale e pepe qb)
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper (1 cucchiaino peperoncino)
  • 1 tsp. rosemary (1 cucchiaino rosmarino)
  • 1 tsp. basil (1 cucchiaino basilico)

Directions for the meatballs:

In a big bowl mix the ground beef, Italian sausage, ricotta, eggs, parmesan, and spices/herbs (all ingredients except breadcrumbs).

When all the ingredients look amalgamated, add the bread crumbs, and keep mixing.


Put the mix in the refrigerator to chill, and meanwhile prepare the tomato sauce.

Directions for tomato sauce:

In a large pan, brown the chopped onion and the garlic clove in olive oil.

When the onion looks golden, add the tomato sauce and all the herbs/spices.

When the tomato sauce reaches boiling, turn the burner to low heat, and let it cook for about 15-20 minutes, covered.

If the tomato sauce becomes too dry before 15 minutes, add a couple tbs. of water.


While the tomato sauce is cooking, take the meatball mix out of the refrigerator and start to make small balls.

Back to the Meatballs.

Each meatball should be made with about 1 tbs. of meat mixture (remember that the smaller your meatballs are, the taster they will result).

Then flour each meatball evenly.


Into a large pan pour about 5 tbs. of olive, switch on the heat, and when the oil is hot, start to brown the meatballs all around.

Cook at medium heat for about 10 minutes. They have to become brown slowly, so they don’t stay raw inside.

Considering that you will obtain plenty of meatballs, you’ll probably run out of olive oil in your pan. So, I suggest to rinse and wipe out the pan when the oil in the pan begins to burn, and use new oil to brown the remaining meatballs.

You can eat the fried meatballs immediately, or mix them in the tomato sauce.

Once the tomato sauce is ready, take the garlic clove out of the pan, mix the browned meatballs in it, and let them cook together at medium heat for about 5 minutes, to allow the tomato to get the meatballs’ taste!



– I’ve never made spaghetti and meatballs because to me meatballs are already rich enough, but if you want to make them to dress your pasta, you’ll get a really great entree!

– As I told you in the header, if you make the meatballs before dinner, you can just fry them and enjoy them without tomato sauce.

– As side dish, I suggest mashed potatoes or any other veggies. Of course with french fries the combination would be perfect… if you just don’t care about calories 🙂

– If you have meatballs leftover, freeze them only once they are cooked and mixed with the tomato sauce.

My thanks to Silvia for another wonderful dish and I am sure that it tastes as good as it looks.

About Silvia Todesco

I’m Silvia, I come from Veneto Region (from Bassano del Grappa precisely, one hour by car far from Venice), and I moved to Iowa in 2011, because of my husband’s job necessities.

I’ve grown up watching my great-grandmother, my grandmother, and my mother cooking for my family every day, searching carefully for ingredients and preparing fresh food. That was their way to show us how much they cared (and care) about us, and to carry on a tradition. I cannot recall a festivity without relatives everywhere and tons of delicious food to eat!

But my way was different I graduated with honors at the University of Law of Padua, and (obviously) I became a lawyer. As a professional, I used to work 14 hours a day, and, of course, the time I could dedicate to my family (and cooking) was almost none.

Then fate brought us here, and finally I’ve found myself. All my background came up, and I realized that taking care of my family is the most satisfying job I could do, especially because it entails cooking healthy and good food!

So I started to practice what I learned when I was young, and surprised myself in making all those meals that characterized my youth.

Integration in a new society is not easy, but it was nice for us to discover how much Italians are loved abroad! And since every new person we have met asked me if I was a good cook, and told me that they love Italian food, well, I decided to share my Italian cooking culture and recipes with you!

Of course, you won’t need to be an expert to follow my recipes! What I’m writing about is our daily menus- recipes made with simple and few ingredients, most of the time cheap and healthy (because the food is not processed).

Plus, considering my passion for cooking, I will also share with you new recipe I discovered in magazines, websites, or shared by friends, and in this case I will always describe you the origin of my posts objects.

In addition, I promise not only to write about Italian food, but especially to give suggestions related to where and how to find the right ingredients and tools you will need. I really hope that you will enjoy my tips!

Connect to Silvia


Silvia would love to receive your comments and it would be great if you could share the post.. thanks Sally.

Next Sunday….tune in for oven baked, bacon wrapped cod….

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