Thank you, Ragu, for sponsoring this post and adding even more flavor to this dish!
Before my Uncle Sam passed away years ago, he was able to visit my family in Tampa from Louisiana on one occasion. Uncle Sam, my father’s uncle, had a name that seeped Italian: Salvatore Valenziano. He was known for treasuring his spaghetti Thursdays, which he, without a doubt, never missed. When he visited us here in Tampa, my mom, of course, prepared his favorite spaghetti and meatballs that Thursday. Uncle Sam got all dressed up in his nice slacks, button down shirt, sweater vest and tie, to sit down and enjoy his spaghetti with his family. I’ll never forget how much he valued that meal.
Food has always played a giant role in my family. Between my father’s Sicilian roots and my mother’s Cuban background, there has never been a shortage of flavor. My grandmother, my mom’s mother, has been whipping up Cuban specialties in the kitchen since I can remember. My father was born and raised in Louisiana, which if you’re involved in the foodie community even an ounce, you’re aware of the relevance New Orleans has in culinary culture. Beignets fo dayzzzz.
In honor of one side of my family background, my Italian origin, I decided to share a new meatball recipe that I’ve decided to add to our family recipe book. Instead of keeping with the traditional meatballs that I am used to, I jazzed it up by adding mozzarella pearls INSIDE of the meatball, making for a melty, cheesy compliment to the dish, that wouldn’t otherwise exist unless you overdosed on shredded Parmesan.
For the sauce, I used ‘Old World Style’ Traditional Ragu pasta sauce. This made my life so much easier because in addition to the meatballs, I made roasted spaghetti squash and roasted eggplant on the side, which left me with little energy to whip up homemade gravy.
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This recipe is extremely easy and goes well with a traditional bowl of spaghetti with Ragu sauce.
- 1 lb. ground pork
- 1 lb. ground turkey
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup Italian bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 package of mozzarella pearls
- 1 large jar of Ragu pasta sauce, flavor of choice
- Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
- Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Combine first ten ingredients in a bowl and combine with your hands.
- Grab one chunk of meat mixture. Take a mozzarella pearl and press it into the center. Take another chunk of meat mixture and place atop the other half, covering the cheese.
- Use your palms to form into a ball.
- Place meatballs on a foil-lined baking dish.
- Drizzle extra virgin olive oil on a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. When the pan is extra hot, add meatballs.
- Brown them on each side for about 10 minutes each.
- Place the skillet in the oven and set timer for 7-10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat Ragu sauce in a large sauce pan over medium heat.
- When meatballs are finished, remove them from the oven and place back on low heat.
- Spoon the Ragu sauce in the skillet, covering the meatballs. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and enjoy with your favorite type of pasta!
To make the dish a bit healthier, replace your usual pasta choice with roasted spaghetti squash or a spiralized vegetable. Serve a veggie on the side with a salad. Eggplant was my choice as it is seen in numerous Italian-inspired dishes, in addition to the fact that it’s one of my favorites. *TIP: Eggplant soaks up oil VERY easily. To avoid super oily eggplant, drench it in salt for about an hour prior to cooking. Rid the eggplant of the salt before preparing. This will soak up most of the moisture to make for a more flavorful outcome.
Join the conversation:
What is one family tradition you will carry on with you?
What dishes are staples in your family tree?
What is your favorite way to use pasta sauce?