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Herbed Lamb Meatballs

Herbed Lamb Meatballs

 Herbed Lamb Meatballs with Rich Tomato Sauce and Ricotta

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 cup lightly packed basil leaves, torn
2 tablespoons oregano leaves
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Two 28-ounce cans whole Italian tomatoes with their juices, crushed
6 large anchovy fillets, chopped
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup raw almonds, finely chopped
1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 pounds ground lamb
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup finely chopped basil leaves, plus whole leaves for garnish
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
1 tablespoon finely chopped oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped thyme
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon dry red wine
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Ricotta cheese, for serving


1.     MAKE THE SAUCE In a large saucepan, heat the oil until simmering. Add the garlic, basil, oregano, bay leaves and red pepper and cook over moderately high heat for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and simmer over moderately low heat, stirring, until the tomatoes are saucy, 1 hour. Stir in the anchovies and season with salt and black pepper.

2.    MAKE THE MEATBALLS In a bowl, cover the almonds with the milk and let stand until most of the milk has been absorbed, 30 minutes. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the whole basil leaves, olive oil and ricotta and mix well. Form into 1 1/2-inch meatballs and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet.

3.    In a skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Working in batches, cook the meatballs over moderately high heat, turning, until nearly cooked through, 7 minutes per batch.

4.    Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer until cooked through, 8 minutes. Spoon into bowls, top with ricotta and garnish with basil.
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