Italian Meatballs with Caprese Salad
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Garnished with freshly grated parmesan and parsley
Italian Meatballs & Caprese Salad
- 1 1/4 lbs Ground Beef, At least 15% fat, not extra lean
- 3/4 lbs Ground Italian Pork Sausage, (Hot or Mild)
- 1/2 medium Yellow Onion, Finely Diced
- 4 cloves Garlic, Minced
- 3 Tbsp Fresh Parsley, Finely Chopped (plus more for garnish)
- 2 large leaves Fresh Basil, Finely Chopped (Chop just before adding)
- 1 cup Bread Crumbs, Panko or Original
- 2 Eggs, Large
- To taste Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper
- 1 tsp Italian Seasoning, Optional
- 1/2 cup Parmesan or Romano Cheese, Freshly grated preferred (plus more for garnishing)
- 4 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1, 24 oz jar Tomato Sauce, Marinara or Arrabiata works well.
- For the Caprese Salad: as follows
- 4 medium Tomatoes, Preferably heirloom or off the vine - the more flavor the better
- 8-12 Fresh Basil Leaves, Large
- 1, 16 oz Fresh Mozzarella Log
- Vinaigrette: optional
- 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
- 1/2 tsp Italian Seasoning
- To taste Salt & Pepper
- 2 cloves Garlic, Finely minced
Meatballs, Salad, and Vinaigrette
- Heat a non-stick skillet to medium-high, and add 2 Tbsp olive oil. Saute onions, letting them sit without stirring for periods so they get brown and caramelize. When the onions are almost browned add the garlic and saute another 2 minutes, stirring. Salt and pepper. This step is often omitted in meat ball recipes, but it adds a depth of flavor to your aromatics that cannot be achieved by cooking them in the meatball.
- In a large bowl, combine all other ingredients. Add the sautéed aromatics. Mash with your hand until just combined. Do not over work the ingredients.
- Form 12, 2-1/2 inch meatballs. Using the same pan you cooked the aromatics in, re-heat to medium high. Add an additional 2 Tbsp olive oil. Place the meatballs in the skillet.
- Let meatballs rest long enough to brown well before turning. Brown well on all sides. Add tomato sauce, and turn to a low simmer while you prepare the salad.
- Note: There is a debate on what type of bread crumbs to use in meatballs. My suggestion is to try freshly ground, dehydrated, and panko and see which type you prefer. They will all work in this recipe.
- While the meatballs are cooking, assemble the salad. Cut the tomato and mozzarella into 2/3 inch slices. Place a slice of tomato on a plate, stack off-set a slice of mozzarella, then a basil leaf. Alternate 2-3 times, as desired, ending with tomato.
- Salt and pepper the salad to taste. Traditional caprese is just finished with a drizzle of high quality olive oil, but I like to add a little extra flavor with a simple vinaigrette.
- Whisk together all vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl. Drizzle ~ 1 tsp over each salad plate.
- Fun fact - caprese salad was originally fashioned to mimic the colors of the Italian flag.
- Serve meatballs 2 to a plate. Top with tomato sauce, parmesan, and parsley.
Arrabbiata sauce adds a spicier kick than marinara.
Caramelize the aromatics.
Easy grow herbs in a can.
Combine the meatball ingredients.
Don't overwork the meatball mixture before cooking.
When browned on all sides, simmer meatballs in tomato sauce.
© 2016 Melissa Althen