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Herbed Lamb Meatballs with Rich Tomato Sauce and Ricotta
© Con Poulos

Herbed Lamb Meatballs with Rich Tomato Sauce and Ricotta

  • TOTAL TIME: 1 HR 30 MIN
  • SERVINGS: 6 to 8
  • HEALTHY
  • MAKE-AHEAD
  • STAFF-FAVORITE

Chef Seamus Mullen loads these flavor-packed lamb meatballs with almonds, basil, parsley, mint, oregano and thyme, then serves them in a savory tomato sauce spiked with anchovies and a dollop of fresh ricotta cheese.

Slideshow: Great Meatballs

Sauce

  1. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  2. 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  3. 1 cup lightly packed basil leaves, torn
  4. 2 tablespoons oregano leaves
  5. 2 bay leaves
  6. 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  7. Two 28-ounce cans whole Italian tomatoes with their juices, crushed
  8. 6 large anchovy fillets, chopped
  9. Kosher salt
  10. Freshly ground pepper

Meatballs

  1. 1/2 cup raw almonds, finely chopped
  2. 1/2 cup milk
  3. 2 1/2 pounds ground lamb
  4. 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  5. 1/4 cup finely chopped basil leaves, plus whole leaves for garnish
  6. 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  7. 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
  8. 1 tablespoon finely chopped oregano
  9. 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped thyme
  10. 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  11. 1 tablespoon dry red wine
  12. 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  13. 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  14. 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
  15. 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  16. 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  17. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  18. Ricotta cheese, for serving
  1. MAKE THE SAUCE In a large saucepan, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the garlic, basil, oregano, bay leaves and red pepper and cook over moderately high heat for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and simmer over moderately low heat, stirring, until the tomatoes are saucy, 1 hour. Stir in the anchovies and season with salt and black pepper.
  2. MAKE THE MEATBALLS In a bowl, cover the almonds with the milk and let stand until most of the milk has been absorbed, 30 minutes. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the whole basil leaves, olive oil and ricotta and mix well. Form into 1 1/2-inch meatballs and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.
  3. In a skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Working in batches, cook the meatballs over moderately high heat, turning, until nearly cooked through, 7 minutes per batch.
  4. Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer until cooked through, 8 minutes. Spoon into bowls, top with ricotta and garnish with basil.
Make Ahead The meatballs can be refrigerated in the sauce overnight.

Suggested Pairing

Traditional Chianti Classicos, made with only Sangiovese, have an herbal edge that befits these meatballs.