Ricotta-Filled Meatballs

Basic meatballs become dinner party fare when stuffed with rich, creamy ricotta cheese in this recipe from Apizz chef John LaFemina.

  • Servings: 8

Source: The Martha Stewart Show, January 2011


For the Meatballs

  • 3 cups cubed crusty white Italian bread, crusts removed
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Pinch of oregano
  • Coarse salt
  • 2 cups Basic Tomato Sauce

For the Stuffing

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

To Serve

  • 1 cup Basic Tomato Sauce
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


  1. Make the meatballs: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  2. Run bread under water and gently squeeze out excess liquid. Transfer bread to a large bowl and add veal, beef, pork, egg, onion, parsley, basil, cheese, and oregano; season with salt. Using your hands, mix until well combined. Divide mixture into 8 equal portions and roll each portion into a large round meatball. Place meatballs in a large baking dish.

  3. In a large bowl, combine tomato sauce and two cups of water. Spoon tomato sauce mixture over meatballs until liquid comes three-quarters of the way up the meatballs, adding more water if necessary. Cover baking dish with parchment paper-lined aluminum foil and transfer to oven. Bake meatballs for 1 hour, rotating dish after 30 minutes.

  4. Make the stuffing: In a medium bowl, mix together all ingredients. Transfer cheese mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a large plain round tip; set aside.

  5. Remove meatballs from baking dish and discard liquid. Using an apple corer or small knife, cut out a 1/2-inch hole in the bottom of each meatball; fill hole with cheese mixture and transfer meatballs to a large baking dish, hole side up.

  6. Serve: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spoon tomato sauce evenly over meatballs and transfer to oven. Bake until heated through, 10 to 15 minutes. Top each meatball with a tablespoon of ricotta cheese (it should look like it is oozing from the center) and sprinkle with Parmigiano; return to oven and heat for 3 minutes. Serve immediately.


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