Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Meatball with Pesto Sliders

Okay, seriously, if you haven't been to Annie's Eats you're missing out. It's one of my favorite cooking blogs. It's the perfect combination of meals and sweets. So really, it's no surprise that I stole this recipe from her. I made one major tweek, that was using pesto from a jar. I have a favorite brand that outshines any pesto I have ever been able to make, it's cheaper, and it also cut down on my time in the kitchen by at least 20 minutes (including cleanup). Not that I don't love being in the kitchen but I'm a busy woman. I also froze about 3/4 of this batch for easy suppers and lunches.

For the sauce:
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 oz.) can tomato puree
1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce
2 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. sugar
Water (optional)

For the meatballs:
½ cup breadcrumbs, divided (I like panko)
¼ cup milk
1 lb. ground beef
1 egg
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. dried parsley
½ tsp. dried basil

For the pesto:
1 jar pesto (I like Classico Traditional Basil Pesto but McCormick makes a pretty decent envelope mix)
[for the recipe with pesto instructions, click here]

For the sliders:
About 2 dozen white dinner rolls (I used jr. wheat rolls because that's what we like)
Spray olive oil
Sliced provolone cheese (about 12 slices, depending on size)

To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion to the pot and sauté until tender, 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, stirring, about 1 minute. Add the tomato puree, tomato sauce, parsley, basil, oregano, salt and sugar. Add water to thin the sauce out to your desired consistency. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Let simmer for at least 2 hours.

To make the meatballs, combine ¼ cup of the breadcrumbs with the milk in a medium mixing bowl. Let stand 10 minutes. Add the remaining breadcrumbs, ground beef, egg, garlic, salt, pepper, parsley and basil to the bowl. Mix well until thoroughly combined. Form into meatballs, about 1¼ inches in diameter. Add the meatballs to the simmering sauce about 45 minutes before the sauce is finished. Cover and let simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, 35-45 minutes.

To make the pesto, open the jar!

To assemble the sliders, preheat the oven to 400˚ F. Slice the dinner rolls in half and lay open on a baking sheet. Spray the rolls lightly with olive oil. Bake for 5 minutes, just until lightly toasted. Slice a cooked meatball in half and place both halves on the bottom portion of a roll, flat side down. Spoon a small amount of sauce over the meatball. Top with sliced provolone. Repeat with the remaining rolls. Bake again, 5 minutes more, just until the cheese is melted. Spoon a small amount of additional sauce over the provolone, and finish small spoonful of the pesto on top. Serve immediately.

[click here for printable version]

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