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I used a recipe from Modern Low Carb Recipes as the basis for the meatballs, but modified the sauce and toppings. What I loved about their meatball recipe is that the meatballs tasted so close to Italian sausage, minus all the salt and fat.
Assembling The Casserole
Make the meatballs first, so that the flavors of the seasonings and the ground pork can meld together in the fridge.
I mixed the ground pork with the seasonings and red wine in the clear bowl, then put it in the fridge for a few hours.
Then, I assembled the meatballs, placed them on a cookie sheet, and returned to the fridge until I was ready.
Next, I turned to creating the sauce.
Browned the meatballs
Assembling the casserole
Ready for the oven!
15 minutes later, I added the ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, basil, and parsley, then returned it to the oven for another 15 minutes.
And it’s ready to eat!
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 2 Tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 container Pomi strained tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
- 1 cup Italian cheese blend
- 8 oz. fresh mozzarella, small balls or slices into 1/4″ slices
- 8 oz. fresh ricotta cheese
- 3 cloves minced garlic, divided
- 1/2 chopped onion, divided
Combine ground pork, red wine, and the next 4 spices in a medium bowl. Mix with your hands and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Use a melon baller to scoop meatball mixture into similarly sized meatballs and roll by hand into a round shape. You should have 18-20 meatballs. If not making right away, return to refrigerator on a cookie sheet until ready to use.
In a medium saucepan, add Pomi tomatoes, Italian seasoning, 1 clove of minced garlic, and 1/4 cup of chopped onion. Bring to a boil and simmer until thickened.
Heat olive oil in a skillet on medium to medium-high heat until shimmering. Add remaining onion and garlic and cook until translucent. Add meatballs to skillet and brown on all sides, about 6-8 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
To assemble the casserole: add half of the sauce to the bottom of a 13 x 9″ low-sided casserole dish, then place meatballs on top of the sauce, evenly spacing them in the dish. Pour remaining sauce over the meatballs and top with Italian blend cheese. Bake, uncovered for 15 minutes.
Remove casserole from the oven, place mozzarella cheese and ricotta cheese in spaces between the meatballs. Top with chopped parsley and basil. Return to the oven for an additional 15 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
This turned out to be a delicious meal! I couldn’t wait to share it you.
Looking for a some dinner inspiration? Here’s a weekly dinner plan:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Egg: A lot of meatball recipes add egg to the mince mixture because it helps to bind the balls together.
Breadcrumbs: Breadcrumbs also help to bind your meatballs.
Cheese: Adding cheese helps to bind the meatballs while cooking.
Massage your meat. True story. …
Add breadcrumbs. Add breadcrumbs to the mixture, but not too many breadcrumbs.
Don’t add much apart from meat.
Roll your meatballs in flour.
Give your meatballs space.
Shake your meatballs.
Brown your meatballs first.
You can bake or fry meatballs based on personal preference. Pan-frying is faster, but baking can save some calories.