Today I did one of my favorite lunches. It is always a hit with the guests and most of it can be prepared ahead of time so it is low stress.
The Caprese Salad and Antipasto platter can be prepared an hour before serving and the meatballs can be made up to several days ahead and warmed before serving.
Here is one of my favorite recipes for satisfying and flavorful meatballs.
Beef and Ricotta Meatballs
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds 80% lean ground beef
1 cup ricotta cheese
2 large eggs
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
4 cups tomato sauce
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Drizzle the olive oil into a 9×13-inch baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the entire surface.
Combine the ground beef, ricotta, eggs, bread crumbs, parsley, oregano, salt, red pepper flakes, and fennel in a large mixing bowl and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated.
Roll the mixture into round, golf ball-size meatballs (about 1 1/2 inches), making sure to pack the meat firmly.
Place the balls in the prepared baking dish, being careful to line them up snugly and in even rows vertically and horizontally to form a grid. The meatballs should be touching one another.
Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until the meatballs are firm and cooked through.
A meat thermometer inserted into the center of a meatball should read 165°F.
While the meatballs are roasting, heat the tomato sauce in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring often.
When the meatballs are firm and fully cooked, remove them from the oven and drain the excess grease from the pan. Pour the tomato sauce over them. Return the meatballs to the oven and continue roasting for another 5-10 minutes.
To make Meatball Subs:
Preheat oven to 350 F
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup.
Place hoagie rolls, on aluminum foil.
Fill split hoagie rolls with warm meatballs and sauce.
Sprinkle grated mozzarella cheese on top and bake 10 minutes.
Allow to cool 5 minutes before serving.
Don’t forget dessert!