Holiday Meatballs over Polenta

sunmaid holiday meatballs uni
Photo: Zach Nelson/Styling: Erika Joyce
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Traditional meatballs have met their match.

Have you ever had meatballs with raisins in them? Well, buckle up because this recipe is taking you there. These holiday meatballs make for the coziest winter entrée and are bursting with flavor, thanks to the addition of Sun-Maid Golden Raisins and toasted pine nuts. Plus, they’re topped with homemade tomato sauce and served over cheesy polenta. Add some extra raisins for good measure and enjoy.


Tomato Sauce

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 small yellow onion, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

½ teaspoon dried oregano

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

One 28-ounce can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand

½ cup torn fresh basil, plus more for serving


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

½ cup yellow onion, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

½ teaspoon dried oregano

1 pound grass-fed ground beef

¼ cup Sun-Maid Golden Raisins, plus more for serving

2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

½ cup plain breadcrumbs

⅓ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


1 cup instant polenta

½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

¼ cup chopped parsley, for serving


1. Make the Tomato Sauce: Heat the olive oil in a medium heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the thyme and oregano, and season with salt during the last minute of cooking. Add the tomatoes and stir to combine. Fill the tomato can with 1 cup water and add it to the pot. Simmer for 25 minutes. Using an immersion blender, blend the sauce until almost smooth. Season with salt and pepper as needed and stir in the basil right before serving.

2. Make the Meatballs: Heat a small sauté pan over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the thyme and oregano and cook for 1 minute more. Transfer to a bowl and cool completely.

3. In a large bowl, mix the ground beef, raisins, pine nuts, breadcrumbs, Pecorino Romano, egg and the cooled onion mixture until just combined. Season with salt and pepper. Roll into 1½-inch meatballs. (The recipe should make about 16.)

4. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and sear on all sides until golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Place the meatballs in the tomato sauce and simmer until cooked through, 13 to 15 minutes.

5. Make the Polenta: Bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil. Gradually whisk in the polenta and simmer until thick and creamy, according to package instructions.

Once thickened, remove from heat and stir in the Pecorino. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the meatballs atop the polenta. Garnish with additional Pecorino, parsley and raisins.

Nutrition Facts
  • 780 calories

  • 41g fat

  • 63g carbs

  • 40g protein

  • 15g sugar

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Note: The information shown is Edamam's estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.

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