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Orzo-and-Ricotta Meatballs with Marinara

  • SERVINGS: 4 to 6

The combination of orzo and ricotta make these little cinnamon-spiced meatballs nicely light.

Slideshow: Meatball Recipes


  1. 1/4 cup orzo
  2. 1 large egg
  3. 1 large shallot, minced
  4. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  5. 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  6. 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  7. 1 pound ground chuck (preferably 20 percent fat)
  8. 1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese
  9. 1/4 cup water
  10. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  11. 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  12. 1/4 cup chopped basil, plus more for garnish
  13. 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  14. 24-ounce jar marinara sauce
  15. Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving
  1. In a saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the orzo until al dente. Drain and let cool.
  2. In a bowl, beat the egg, shallot, garlic, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add the orzo, ground beef, ricotta, water, salt, pepper and the 1/4 cup of chopped basil and mix well. Shape into 1 1/4-inch meatballs and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.
  3. In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Cook the meatballs over moderately high heat, turning, until just cooked through, 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  4. Add the marinara sauce to the skillet and cook over moderate heat until hot, 5 minutes. Add the meatballs and simmer until hot, 3 minutes. Spoon the meatballs and sauce into shallow bowls, garnish with basil and serve with shaved cheese.
Serve With
Grilled bread.

Suggested Pairing

Chianti Classico Riservas spend more time in oak than basic Chiantis, which gives them lovely spice to match with these meatballs.