Beef + Noodle Soup by Rattaya Nagorski

This soup/main entree was such a hit. The dish was flavorful, easy to make, and definitely became a make-again for us. Stemming from Cuisine Tonight's Cuisine Soups, Stews, & Chilies, the list of ingredients might seem a bit long and bothersome, but don't let that fray you, it was worth the time. Furthermore, the recipe listed 4 servings, but it actually made 5 instead. I served this yummy goodness with crusty bread. 


  • 2 cups diced onions
  • 2 cups sliced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced carrots
  • 1 tsp minced fresh garlic
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp each dried thyme, basil, and oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Madeira or dry sherry
  • 6 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 tbsp each Worcestershire sauce and low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 lb top sirloin, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 cups dry kluski or egg noodles (6oz)
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Kluski is a generic Polish term for dumplings, but sometimes refer to noodles as well. Find the dry ones for this recipe in the pasta aisle.


  1. Sweat onions, celery, carrot, garlic, pepper, thyme, basil, and oregano in oil in a pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. 
  2. Deglaze pot with Madeira and simmer until nearly evaporated. Increase heat to medium-high, stir in broth, Worcestershire, and soy sauce, and bring to a boil. Add sirloin, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in noodles; cook 5 minutes.
  3. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour and tomato paste, and cook 2 minutes. Add 1 cup liquid from the soup to the butter mixture, whisk until smooth, then pour into soup. Increase heat to medium-high, bring to a boil, and simmer until soup thickens and noodles are tender, 2-3 minutes. Stir in parsley before serving.

Greek-Style Pizza by Rattaya Nagorski

Anything on a naan bread vows to be delicious. This one is no exception. I used lunch meat sliced roast beef, and wished I’d used good quality sliced roast beef. The feta and the potatoes elevated the taste profile of the dish, so try to use to yummy roast beef.

The recipe from came Better Homs & Gardens’ 30-Minute Meals. Yields 4 servings.


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups refrigerated packaged diced potatoes with onions
  • 4 naan bread (Usually 1 packet comes with 2)
  • 4oz crumbled feta cheese with garlic and herb
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 12oz thinly sliced lower-sodium roast beef
  • Crushed red pepper (optional)
  • Sliced baby sweet peppers (optional)


  1. In a large skillet, cook potatoes in the 1 tbsp oil over medium heat for 5 minutes or until tender; set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat broiler. Place flatbread on baking sheet; lightly brush bread with oil. Top with half the cheese. Broil 3-4 inches from heat for 2-3 minutes or until cheese begins to melt. Top barely melted cheese with spinach, roast beef, potatoes, and remaining cheese.

Belgian Beef Stew by Rattaya Nagorski

Ok, first, this isn’t my photo (I know, boo!), but it’s a great photo. We devoured it too quickly because it had to simmer for awhile that I forgot to take a picture of it.

This stew was really easy to make, and quite a bit fun. It came out great, and I was able to change a few things. So for a night in, whether studying or game night, letting the dish “stew” was worth the wait. We ate it with some crusty bread to soak up the juices.


  • 3 center-cut bacon slices, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (I bought the ready cut stew meat. Quicker this way for me)
  • 2 cups chopped onion (about 2 medium) (I used only 1 onion and it was enough)
  • 5 cups sliced cremini mushrooms (about 12 ounces)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle amber beer (Used Austin Amber Ale, so way to go me for buying local!)
  • 2 cups (1/2-inch-thick) slices carrot (about 1/2 pound)
  • 1 3/4 cups (1/2-inch-thick) slices parsnip (about 1/2 pound) (Did not include this. Dish did not seem like it was missing it.)
  • 1 cup fat-free, less-sodium beef broth (I added an extra 1/2 cup of broth just to get a little more saucier)
  • 2 tablespoons country-style Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (Shift this down to 1/4 tsp is recommended. I like the spice, but some may not)
  • 1 bay leaf


  1. Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings; set aside. Add half of beef to drippings in pan; cook 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove beef from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining beef.
  2. Add onion to pan; sauté 4 minutes. Stir in mushrooms and garlic; sauté 4 minutes or until half of liquid evaporates. Stir in flour; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in beer, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.
  3. Add bacon, beef, carrot, and remaining ingredients to pan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 2 hours or until beef is tender. Discard bay leaf. Serve with some crusty bread!

    The posted recipe said 8 servings, with 1 cup per serving. Let’s be real. This is 4 servings with 2 cups of servings per person.

    The genius of this recipe: Mark Scarbrough, Cooking Light
    DECEMBER 2009

Steak Sandwich + Pickled Onion + Herb Aioli by Rattaya Nagorski

Eddie and I often would make a quick sandwich for lunch, grab a yogurt, and finish our bag with a fruit. When I decided to make this sandwich for dinner, I was a bit hesitant to make just another sandwich. This recipe, however, looked and sounded interesting enough with the pickled onion and the herbed aioli. This came out to be one of the best sandwiches we had ever made at home.

The pickled onions were sweet, surprisingly, because “pickled” to me meant tart. I didn’t follow the recipe through and through, using dried herbs instead of fresh. So even though I knew my herb aioli was going to be great, I also wondered how different it would be with the fresh herbs. I served the sandwich with some oven-fried crinkle fries.

This recipe came from Cooking Light, August 2012. 4 servings.


  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar [I used apple cider vinegar since I already had it.]
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/4 cup canola mayonnaise [Used regular mayonnaise]
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme [I used 1 tbsp Mediterranean spice mix instead of the thyme and tarragon.]
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1lb flank steak, trimmed
  • 1 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (12oz) French bread baguette [We just used whole wheat sandwich slices instead, and just made individual sandwiches.]
  • 1 cup arugula leaves [Boston lettuce leaves]


  • Combine first 3 ingredients in a medium microwave-safe bowl; microwave at high 2 minutes or until boiling. Stir in onion. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. 
  • Combine mayo and the next 4 ingredients (through garlic). 
  • Heat a grill pan on medium-high heat. Rub steak evenly with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place steak on grill pan; grill 5 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove from pan; let stand 5 minutes. Cut steak across the grain into thin slices. 
  • Cut baguette in half lengthwise. Hollow out top and bottom halves of bread, leaving a 1/2-inch-thick shell; reserve torn bread for another use. Place bread, cut sides down, on grill pan; grill 1 minute or until toasted.
  • Drain onion mixture; discard liquid. Arrange steak evenly over bottom half of baguette; top evenly with onion and arugula. Spread mayonnaise mixture over cut side of top baguette half; place on sandwich. Cut into 4 pieces.

Italian Beef + Spinach Pie by Rattaya Nagorski

This is an old time favorite, in which I have made a few times. It is also a one-dish-wonder, combining great Italian ingredients, harboring both meat and veggies for a great dinner. The dish can take a bit of time in the oven, and it seems like many ingredients, but it is an easy dish to make, and the result is nothing but marvelous.

On a side note, I would add a little more salt and even some crushed red pepper before the simmering. The original recipe, from Big Book of Quick & Easy Comfort Cooking by Better Homes & Gardens, said 8 servings, but it's better served as 6 servings. 


  • 1 pkg             10oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 1 each           unbaked 9-inch pastry shell
  • 1/2 lb             lean ground beef
  • 1/2 lb             bulk mild Italian turkey sausage (or regular Italian sausage)
  • 3/4 cup         chopped red and/or yellow sweet pepper (1 large) (I omitted this)
  • 1/2 cup          sliced fresh mushrooms (Since I omitted this, I used 8oz sliced baby  bella mushrooms)
  • 1 clove          garlic, minced
  • 1 cup             water
  • 1/2 cup          tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp         dried Italian seasoning, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp           salt
  • 2/3 cup         light ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup         shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup             chopped tomato
  • Fresh oregano (optional)


  1. Drain thawed spinach well, pressing out excess liquid, set aside. Line pastry shell with a double thickness of foil. Bake in a 450 oven for 8 minutes. Remove foil. Bake for 4 to 5 minutes more, or until set and dry; remove from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 350.
  2. In a large skillet, cook beef, sausage, sweet pepper, mushrooms, and garlic until meat is no longer pink and vegetables are tender. Drain off fat, stir in water, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, and salt. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together spinach, ricotta cheese, and 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese. Spoon spinach mixture into baked pastry shell. Top with the meat mixture.
  4. To prevent overbrowning, cover the edge of pastry with foil. Bake in 350 oven for 45 minutes. Remove foil. Top pie with tomato and the remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese. Bake for 2 minutes more or until tomato is heated through and cheese is melted. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Cut into wedges to serve. If desired, garnish with fresh oregano. 

Sweet-and Spicy Meatloaves by Rattaya Nagorski

This main  dinner dish came out all sorts of wrong. My only mistake was not processing the onions, but that wasn't really the issue. From The Food Network Magazine, March 2012, these Sweet-and Spicy Meatloaves were a huge miss from the magazine that often had great recipes. 

First, the title was misleading. This was neither sweet, nor spicy. It should have been titled Curried Meatloaves, for the main taste was from the curry powder. Other than salt and pepper, there were no other seasoning to heighten the meatloaves. This might have been their way of trying to pass for a quick dinner meal, but it was obviously a mistake. When I made it, I was too lazy to have to clean the food processor, so I used panko crumbs instead of the bread slices, minced the onions, and used shredded carrots. The dish had a quick recipe for a side dish of potatoes and broccoli, but I didn't make those, but I'll post that here. Also, the glaze of ketchup and apricot jam should have been doubled. 

I probably won't make this dish again, but I wanted to say that the portions of the meat were nice. It made 4 nicely-sized loaves, producing 4 servings.


  • 2 slices whole-grain sandwich bread, torn into pieces
  • 1/2 small onion, quartered
  • 1 medium carrot, quartered
  • 1/2 lb 93% lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 lb 90% lean ground beef
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp plus 1/8 tsp curry powder
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp peach chutney or apricot jam
  • 2 medium red-skinned potatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 head broccoli (florets cut into pieces, stem peeled and thinly sliced)
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 375. Pulse the bread in a food processor until finely ground; transfer to a large bowl. Add the onion and carrot to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to the bowl with the bread and add the turkey, beef, egg, and 1/2 tsp tsp each curry powder, salt, and pepper. Mix by hand until just combined. Space into 4 small oblong meatloaves on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. 
  2. Mix the ketchup and chutney in a small bowl and brush over the meatloaves. Bake until just cooked through, about 20 minutes. 
  3. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and and cook 4 minutes, then add the broccoli florets and stem; cook until the vegetables are just tender, about 6 more minutes. Drain; return to the pot. Toss with the olive oil and the remaining 1/8 tsp curry powder. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with the meatloaves. 

Beef Daube Provencal by Rattaya Nagorski

Delicious meaty stew that was worth the 2.5 hours in the oven. This was an easy dish that you could also play with your choice in vegetables. The recipe suggested the stew to be served over egg noodles, but it was just fine with some nice crusty bread.

Cooking Light, October 2013, yielding 6 servings.

I took a small shortcut and used Italian seasoning instead of the fresh rosemary and fresh thyme. I knew it could be a blasphemy that I took out fresh herbs, but it was just a tiny bit cheaper since I already had Italian seasoning. Also, most supermarkets offered stew cubed beef, so buying 2 pounds of that saved some time.


  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 12 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 (2lb) boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2-in cubes
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups chopped carrot
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup lower-sodium beef broth
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • Dash of ground cloves
  • 1 (14.5oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cups cooked medium egg noodles (about 4 cups uncooked noodles)


  1. Preheat oven to 300.
  2. Heat a Dutch oven over low heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add garlic; cook 5 minutes or until garlic is fragrant, stirring occasionally. Remove garlic with a slotted spoon; set aside. Increase heat to medium-high. Add beef to pan; sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Cook 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove beef from pan. Add wine to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add garlic, beef, remaining 3/4 tsp salt, remaining 1/4 tsp pepper, carrot, and next 8 ingredients (through bay leaf); bring to a boil. 
  3. Cover and bake at 300 for 2.5 hours or until beef is tender. Discard bay leaf. Serve over noodles. 

The recipe noted that if you want to make this in a slow cooker, simple prepare through step 2. Place beef mixture in an electric slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH for 5 hours or until beef is tender. 

Garlic Beef Enchiladas by Rattaya Nagorski

Enchiladas are typically made with corn tortillas, but this recipe calls for flour tortillas, which is just as good. I recommend using homemade tortillas instead of the dried-out ones on the shelves.

Also, It's easier to buy ready-made enchilada sauce in a can, but it is definitely better to make our own from the recipe below. It simply means less sodium and no preservatives, and anything that you make on your own just tastes so much better.

This dish is full of garlicky sauce and cheesy goodness. It also makes great leftovers, but I'm sure it will be gone when everyone digs into it. 


  • 1lb       ground beef
  • 1 ea     medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp  chili powder
  • 1 tsp    salt
  • 1 tsp    garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp rubbed sage
  • 1 can   14.5oz stewed tomatoes


  • 4 to 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup  butter
  • 1/2 cup  all purpose flour
  • 1 can     14.5oz beef broth
  • 1 can     15oz tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp  chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp    ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp    rubbed sage
  • 1/2 tsp      salt
  • 10 ea        flour tortillas, warmed
  • 2 cups     shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese, divided


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a large saucepan, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the flour and seasonings until blended. Stir in tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in another saucepan, sauté garlic in butter until tender. Stir in flour until blended. Gradually stir in broth; bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in tomato sauce and seasonings; heat through.
  4. Pour about 1 1/2 cup sauce into an ungreased 13x9-in baking dish. Spread about 1/4 cup beef mixture down center of each tortilla; top with 2 tbsp cheese. Roll up tightly; place seam side down over sauce. Top with remaining sauce.
  5. Cover and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 10-15 minutes longer or until the cheese is melted. 

6 Servings. The Taste of Home Cookbook. 

Cheeseburger Mac + Cheese by Rattaya Nagorski

This easy weeknight dinner is from FamilyCircle, and having made it twice now, you will go for seconds. It's a simple dish that hits most notes, the mac and cheese part, and the ground beef part. Now that we have two teenagers with us, the plates have been cleaned. I have had all the ingredients already, except the tomatoes, so the picture will not show them.


  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 1 lb ground sirloin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tbsp yellow mustard (or dijon mustard)
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 can (12oz) evaporated milk
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 plum tomatoes, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp seasoned bread crumbs


  • Heat oven to 350. Coat a 2-qt oval baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boiling. Add pasta and cook, 10 minutes, as per package directions. Drain.
  • While pasta cooks, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sirloin, breaking apart with a wooden spoon. Cook 6 minutes, until no longer pink. Season with 1/4 salt and pepper. Remove from heat and stir in ketchup and mustard. Transfer to a bowl.
  • Return skillet to medium heat and add butter. Once melted, whisk in flour, then add milk in a thin stream. Bring to a simmer and cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in remaining 1/4 tsp salt and 2 cups of the cheese. Stir in pasta. Pour into prepared dish. Top with meat mixture, remaining cheese, sliced tomatoes, and bread crumbs. Spritz with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Increase heat to broil and broil for 2 minutes.

8 servings

Salisbury Steak + Mushroom Gravy by Rattaya Nagorski

Salisbury steak is such a classic dish, especially with mushroom gravy. This family meal was easy to make, as well as fun, and of course, great to devour. This version has sweet Italian sausage added in, and it heightens the overall taste profile. I served it with some potatoes and while it only made 4 servings, they were 4 huge servings.

From Fine Cooking, Oct/Nov 2014.


  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 lb 90% lean ground beef
  • 1/4 lb sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, coarsely grated
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely grated
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 cups lower-salt beef broth
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 8oz shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh parsley


  1. In a large bowl, whisk the egg with 2 tsp of the Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp of the mustard, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Add the beef, sausage, breadcrumbs, onion, and garlic and mix until combined. Shape into 4 oval patties about 1/2 inch thick.
  2. Heat the oil and 1 tbsp of the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until the butter stops foaming. Add the patties and cook, flipping once, until well browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes total. Transfer to a plate, and cover to keep warm. Wipe out the skillet. 
  3. In a small bowl, stir 2 tbsp of the beef broth with the cornstarch.
  4. Melt the remaining 1 tbsp butter in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, rosemary, and 1/2 tsp salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are browned, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining beef broth, 1 tsp Worcestershire, and 1 tsp mustard. Stir the cornstarch mixture again and then whisk it into the skillet. Cook, whisking occasionally, until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return the patties to the skillet to reheat. Served sprinkled with the parsley. 

Beef Empanada + Black Bean Dipping Sauce by Rattaya Nagorski


These beef empanada were so great as I became a huge fan. The recipe, from Bon Appetit, June 2011, also included black bean dipping sauce, but I thought the empanadas stood great on their own. It was easy and quick. It could also be a snack or served with a salad or some sort of veggie casseroles. I would maybe add a little spice to it.

Quick note: I only filled 2 sheets of puff pastry, yielding 8 servings, or 8 empanadas. The recipe suggested 12 empanadas.



  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 packages frozen puff pastry (3 sheets)
  • 3 large egg yolks, beaten, for glaze


  • 1 15oz can black beans, drained, rinsed
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 roma tomatoes, seeded, chopped, divided
  • 2 large scallions, chopped, divided
  • Salt and ground black pepper


For empanadas: Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add beef and garlic; cook, stirring often and breaking up into small pieces using a wooden spoon until beef is cooked, about 3 minutes. Add tomato paste, cumin, and cayenne. Reduce heat to medium; cook, stirring often, 4 minutes. Add cilantro, season to taste with salt and pepper. Let filling cool to room temperature. 

Preheat oven to 375°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cut each puff pastry sheet into 4 squares for a total of 12 squares. Lightly brush edges of squares with glaze. Spoon filling into center of each, dividing equally. Fold edges over, forming triangles, and press to seal. Crimp edges with a fork. Divide triangles between prepared sheets. Brush tops with glaze.

Bake until tops are puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes. 

For dipping sauce: Meanwhile, puree beans and sour cream in a blender until smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in half of tomatoes and half of scallions. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle remaining tomatoes and scallions over.

Jumbo Italian Cheesy Meatballs by Rattaya Nagorski

These are definitely the biggest meatballs I have ever made, and probably ever seen. When it's something fun and exciting like this, it makes eating this dish that much better. The recipe, however, borderlines with an Italian meatloaf, but eating a meal titled jumbo meatballs wins over meatloaf any day.

The recipe is from Food Network magazine, October 2013. Even though it's 4 servings because four jumbo meatballs, you can certainly make smaller meatballs and stretch it to 6 servings. The mini mozzarella balls are a nice touch for the center of the dish, but not quite necessary (I'm sure some will disagree.) To save a few calories, I skipped the ricotta cheese topping. 


For the meatballs:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
  • 3 1/2 cups torn stale Italian bread (about 1/4 loaf)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 pounds ground beef chuck
  • 1 small bunch parsley, chopped(about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 mini mozzarella balls ( bocconcini)

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 28 -ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 to 4 sprigs basil, plus chopped leaves for topping
  • Kosher salt
  • Ricotta cheese, for topping



  1. Make the meatballs: Preheat the oven to 400 and brush a baking sheet with olive oil. Pulse the bread in a food processor to make coarse crumbs. Transfer to a small bowl, add the milk and set aside to soak. Lightly beat the eggs in a large bowl, then add the beef, parsley, parmesan, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and the red pepper flakes; mix with your hands to combine. Add the bread-milk mixture and mix until just combined (do not overmix).
  2. Dampen your hands and shape the meat mixture into 4 large balls. Make an indentation in the center of each with your thumb and stuff with a mini mozzarella ball, then mold the meat around the cheese. Arrange the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet and bake until browned and firm, 25 to 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until the garlic softens, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, 1 cup water, the basil sprigs and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until thickened, about 30 minutes.
  4. Remove the meatballs from the oven and add to the sauce, spooning some of the sauce on top. Continue cooking, occasionally spooning the sauce over the meatballs, until tender and cooked through, about 6 minutes. Serve with ricotta and chopped basil.
  5. You can form all of these meatballs a day ahead; cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.