Polenta and Meatballs
Polenta and Meatballs Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

Spaghetti and meatballs? Yawn. It’s time to give your weekly dinner staple a much-needed makeover. Enter hearty polenta and meatballs, a classy twist on an old favorite. Best of all, it costs only $15 to whip up four servings. 

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Makes 4 servings
Start to Finish: 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

Meatballs

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 sweet onion, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

½ cup chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish

½ teaspoon dried oregano

1 large egg

1 pound ground beef

¾ cup panko bread crumbs

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2½ cups store-bought marinara sauce

Polenta

1 cup whole milk

1 cup polenta

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

1. MAKE THE MEATBALLS: In a small skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, 1 minute more. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the cooled onion mixture with the Parmesan, parsley, oregano, egg and ground beef; mix until combined. Add the bread crumbs, season with salt and pepper and then mix again.  

3. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and grease it generously with nonstick cooking spray.

4. With a spoon, scoop the meat mixture into 1-inch balls and arrange them evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the meatballs are fully cooked, 20 to 25 minutes. Pour the marinara sauce over the meatballs, toss to coat and then return the pan to the oven until the sauce is bubbly, 10 minutes more.

5. MAKE THE POLENTA: In a medium pot, bring the milk and 3 cups water to a simmer over medium heat. Whisk in the polenta and cook, whisking occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan, until the polenta absorbs all of the liquid, 15 to 20 minutes.

7. SERVE THE DISH: Divide the polenta among four plates and then spoon the meatballs over the polenta. Garnish each serving with parsley and Parmesan. Serve immediately.

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