Who doesn't like a good meatball? I thought pork might work better than beef in letting the flavors of the sage and walnuts shine through. I added a few other ingredients and was left with a meatball with definite Italian leanings. I ate one for lunch on toasted Italian sesame bread with marinara sauce, but you could just as easily serve them with pasta, on a toothpick on their own, in a Asian-inspired sandwich, in a soup.. the list goes on. I looked to The Meatball Shop cookbook for cooking-method advice. —Cristina Sciarra
Test Kitchen Notes
cristinasciarra's recipe makes for lovely, well seasoned meatballs. I especially liked the contrasting textures of the nuts and meat. Her instructions are great, and it's very easy since you don't fry them, but bake them all at once in a baking dish. So far we have had them with a red sauce, on a hero, in a vegetable soup, and I have portions frozen so we'll be eating them all winter. Which makes me happy. I didn't taste as much sage as I would have liked, so I might up the amount - even double - the next time I make them. And I will make them again. —deanna1001
Toast the walnuts: on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet, at 350F for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool, then roughly chop.
In a medium pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the sage, and cook until fragrant. Add the garlic. After about 1 minute, add the onion. Cook until the onion is translucent. Turn off the heat, and allow to cool.
Transfer the onion/garlic mixture to a large bowl. Mix in the lemon juice and zest, breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan, ricotta and toasted chopped walnuts. Add the ground pork shoulder and the eggs and mix gently by hand until completely incorporated. Add salt and pepper, to taste. (You can test this by cooking just a small amount of the mixture.)
Preheat the oven to 450F. Roll balls a little larger than a golf ball. Set the balls next to each other inside a glass baking dish. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted in the center of a meatball reads 165F. Let rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Cristina is a writer, cook, and day job real estate developer. She studied literature, holds an MFA in Fiction Writing, and completed the Basic Cuisine course at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She lives in Jersey City with her husband--a Frenchman she met in Spain--and their sweet black cat, Minou. Follow her writings, recipes, publications and photography at theroamingkitchen.com.