Orzo-and-Ricotta Meatballs with Marinara

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

Total Time:
45 mins
4 to 6


  • 1/4 cup orzo

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 large shallot, minced

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  • 1 pound ground chuck (preferably 20 percent fat)

  • 1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

  • 1/4 cup chopped basil, plus more for garnish

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 24-ounce jar marinara sauce

  • 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.

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