They could be the most delicious meatballs and pasta you’ll ever cook. There are a lot of hidden layers of flavor within this recipe. The meatballs are soft but firm, and are made from ground beef and Ricotta. They are then drenched in a delicious bell pepper and eggplant tomato sauce, served with orzo. It’s a good thing! It only takes an oven to make the complete dish.To make this dish perfect it is necessary to add ricotta and crumbled breadcrumbs that have been softened to add the meat.
- 500 grams (1.1 pound) ground beef
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon each: smoked paprika, dried oregano, cumin
- 1 garlic clove, minced or grated
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 3 tablespoons ricotta
- 200 grams (7 ounces) orzo
- 150 grams (5 ounces) grated mozzarella
- 1 eggplant, sliced into small cubes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 250 milliliters (1 cup) chicken stock
- olive oil
- 1 small jar roasted bell peppers
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 1 (14.5 oz) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon each (seasoning): smoked paprika, dried oregano, dried thyme, dried basil, chili flakes
- salt + black pepper
- fresh thyme, for sprinkling
How To Make Baked Meatballs with Orzo in Roasted Pepper Sauce
- In a high speed blender add crushed tomatoes, stock, roasted peppers and tomato paste. Blend until smooth.
- Place the breadcrumbs and milk in a large bowl and mix well to combine. Set aside for 5 minutes. In the meantime, cut the eggplant, slice the shallot and mince the garlic. Add the beef, egg, garlic, ricotta, cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, salt and pepper to the breadcrumbs. Mix just until combined, using your hands. Roll the meat into 2-tbsp size balls. In a large oven-proof skillet, heat 3 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Brown meatballs on all sides, remove from skillet.
- In the same skillet, add shallot and garlic, cook for 2-3 minutes until soft. Add 3 tbsp olive oil, then the eggplant cubes. Cook for 5 minutes, then add in orzo. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in tomato sauce, salt, pepper and the seasoning. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer on very low heat for 8 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly. Stir from time to time with a wooden spoon. If needed, add a little bit of water. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Add meatballs to the sauce, simmer for 5 minutes or until the orzo is al dente. Sprinkle with cheese and fresh thyme. Place in the oven until the mozzarella is melted and golden, about 10 minutes. Serve!