Perfect Meatballs with Cherry Tomato Sauce

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perfect meatballs with cherry tomato sauce recipe
What's Gaby Cooking

Our motto? Don’t settle for anything but the best...especially when it comes to meatballs. And this recipe from Gaby Dalkin’s cookbook What’s Gaby Cooking: Everyday California Food is the best. The key is tossing a combination of beef and pork with panko bread crumbs, which gives them the perfect texture and balance of flavor. They freeze well, so it’s easy to make a big batch and just reheat when you have people coming over for dinner. Oh, and they’re smothered with a quick cherry tomato sauce and cheese, of course.

For more tips, tricks and recipes from Gaby Dalkin, check out her website, What’s Gaby Cooking, and her exclusive interview on The Coterie.



1 pound ground beef sirloin

1 pound ground pork

¼ cup milk

4 large eggs

1½ cups panko bread crumbs, divided

1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 cup torn fresh basil

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

⅓ cup pine nuts

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

½ teaspoon red-pepper flakes

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Cherry Tomato Sauce

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 shallot, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1½ pounds cherry tomatoes, halved

14 ounces canned crushed tomatoes

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For Serving

8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced

Fresh basil leaves

Cooked pasta or polenta


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Make the Meatballs: In a large bowl, combine the beef, pork, milk, eggs and ½ cup of the panko; set aside.

3. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the parsley, basil, Parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, salt, pepper, red-pepper flakes and ¼ cup of the olive oil. Process until the herbs are finely chopped, about 45 seconds.

4. Add the herb mixture to the meat mixture and mix until the ingredients are incorporated. Shape into large balls that are bigger than a golf ball but smaller than a tennis ball; you should end up with about 18 total. Roll them in the remaining 1 cup panko.

5. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook until crispy all over, about 8 minutes total. Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and wipe down the skillet.

6. MAKE THE CHERRY TOMATO SAUCE: In the same skillet, melt the butter with the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallot, garlic and red-pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook until they start to fall apart, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat and simmer until reduced slightly, about 10 minutes.

7. FOR SERVING: Pour the tomato mixture over the meatballs and top with the mozzarella. Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly, 25 to 30 minutes. Garnish with basil, drizzle with basil vinaigrette or pesto, and serve over pasta or with a side of polenta.

Nutrition Facts
  • Meatballs

  • 409 calories

  • 31g fat

  • 8g carbs

  • 23g protein

  • 1g sugars

  • Cherry Tomato Sauce

  • 64 calories

  • 4g fat

  • 7g carbs

  • 2g protein

  • 4g sugars

  • For Serving

  • 68 calories

  • 5g fat

  • 0g carbs

  • 5g protein

  • 0g sugars

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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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