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Ricotta and Sage Fried Meatballs

Ricotta and Sage Fried Meatballs


  • 1/3 cup whole-milk ricotta
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil plus more for frying
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, toasted, lightly crushed
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg, beaten to blend
  • 2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • Marinara sauce, warmed (optional)

Recipe Preparation

  • Line a baking sheet with parchment. Stir ricotta and 2 tablespoons oil in a medium bowl until smooth. Mix in garlic and next 5 ingredients. Add pork; gently fold until just combined.

  • Scoop out scant tablespoon-fuls of pork mixture. With damp- ened hands, roll portions between your palms into 1-inch balls; place on sheet. Wrap 1 sage leaf around each ball; press gently to adhere.

  • Place flour, egg, and panko in 3 separate medium bowls. Working with 1 meatball at a time, dredge in flour, rolling between your hands to remove excess flour. Dip in egg; allow excess to drip back into bowl. Roll meatball in panko, pressing gently to coat. Return to sheet.

  • Attach deep-fry thermometer to side of a large heavy pot. Pour in oil to a depth of 2-inch. Heat over medium heat until thermometer registers 350°. Line another baking sheet with parchment; set a wire rack inside.

  • Working in batches, fry meatballs, turning often, until light golden and crisp, about 1 minute (they will finish cooking in the oven). Transfer to wire rack; let cool. DO AHEAD Meatballs can be fried 1 month ahead. Store airtight in freezer.

  • Preheat oven to 275°. Bake meatballs in batches on wire rack in baking sheet until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Serve, or keep warm in oven for up to 45 minutes.

  • Pour some warm marinara, if using, into a small bowl. Serve alongside for dipping.

Recipe by The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen,

Nutritional Content

One serving contains: Calories (kcal) 400 Fat (g) 27 Saturated Fat (g) 6 Cholesterol (mg) 55 Carbohydrates (g) 29 Dietary Fiber (g) 2 Total Sugars (g) 2 Protein (g) 12 Sodium (mg) 470Reviews Section



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Calories per serving: 640

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Recipe Summary

  • 16 ounces lean ground beef
  • 4 ounces ground pork
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ⅓ cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs

Preheat the air fryer to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Combine beef, pork, Italian seasoning, salt, garlic, egg, Parmesan cheese, and bread crumbs in a large bowl. Mix well until evenly combined. Form into 16 equally-sized meatballs using an ice cream scoop and place on a baking sheet.

Place 1/2 of the meatballs in the basket of the air fryer and cook 8 minutes. Shake the basket and cook 2 minutes more. Transfer to a serving plate and let rest for 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining meatballs.

9 Ways to Eat More Italian-Style Meatballs

Header image: Turkey Ricotta Meatballs from CHOW

The Italian meatball doesn’t need to be invited to the party. It is the party, bestowing good vibes wherever it goes. Got a plate of boring, plain old pasta? Add some meatballs and gravy for a fun time. Is your pizza slice in need of some sprucing up? Take it to the limits of excess by topping it with meatballs. Have a hoagie roll just crying out to get sauced? Put a meatball on it!

Any time you come across a dish that just seems to be missing something, ask yourself, “Would this be better with an Italian meatball on it?” Because chances are the answer is yes. I mean, it worked out quite well for these nine recipes. They’re definitive proof that meatballs and red sauce possess a pretty magical touch.

1. Basic Italian Meatballs

Three parts beef, two parts pork, and one hundred percent guaranteed to make you a pro at shaping things into little round patties. We’ll show you how to put them together. What you do with them is up to your meatballer instincts. Get our Basic Italian Meatballs recipe.

2. Spaghetti and Meatballs

If you grew up eating spaghetti and meatballs, a recipe like this one is sure to get feelings of nostalgia running high. Make sure you have plenty of parmesan at the ready. Get our Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe.

3. Turkey Meatballs with Ricotta

These cheesy turkey meatballs may be a bit unorthodox, but does that really matter when they’re coated in sauce and wedged between the two sides of a hoagie? I think not. Get our Turkey Meatballs with Ricotta recipe.

4. Meatball Pizza (on a Naan Crust)

Forget sharing. Here’s a pizza that you can call your own. These pies on naan bread are the perfect size for keeping all the meatball goodness to yourself. Get the recipe here.

5. Meatball Muffins

These muffin tin nibbles condense all the charms of a meatball sub into one nifty bite. Now if only all of life’s pleasures could fit into the palm of your hand. Get the recipe here.

6. Meatball Casserole

If you were a meatball, you’d want to end up in a dish like this. Swimming in a pool of tomato sauce, surrounded by pools of melty mozzarella—what a life! Get the recipe here.

7. White Bean and Mushroom “Meatball” Subs

White beans bring creamy heft and mushrooms are full of big flavor—of course they’d make for a killer faux-meatball. Pair them up with some garlicky chard leaves for a welcome bit of green. Get the recipe here.

8. Cheesy Stuffed Meatball Sliders

This is why meatballs have got it better than burgers in the ground meat game: a meatball is the perfect size for dousing in sauce and topping with cheese and it still looks good perched inside of an itty bitty slider bun. Try getting saucy like that, quarter pounder. Get the recipe here.

9. Ricotta and Sage Fried Meatballs

What’s better than a plump and tender meatball? One that’s been rolled in a crispy, fried panko coating. With some marinara sauce for dunking, this is the ultimate way to satisfy both the meatball and the deep fried finger food lover in you. Get the recipe here.

Interested in “Jewish spaghetti“, cook along with “Royal Pains” Star’s Dad as he prepares a family recipe.

10 photos of the "Ricotta Recipes Dinner"

Cooking the Meatless Meatballs

There are actually two ways to cook these guys: Baked or pan fried. I fried mine this time around but baking them is just fine also.

If you want to pan fry, just add about 3 tablespoons of oil to a large skillet and add the balls over medium heat. Cook and turn until all the balls are lightly browned all around.

If you’re baking them, which is also delicious, then add all the balls to the baking sheet and drizzle on a bit of oil over each one.

You should end up with about 30 veggieballs.

Bake them at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes, turning every 15 minutes or so.

They should be nice and golden brown when you pull them out!

Butternut Squash Ravioli Sandwiches – an Experiment in Futility

Wanting desperately to create something fantastic, our recent endeavors into the world of pasta-making inspired these two sandwiches. Well actually, it was perhaps one part inspiration and two parts madness (at least, according to Wendie). She thinks that this was a waste of perfectly good ravioli but I was not to be deterred on this quest. The sandwiches were both reasonably tolerable, but they were neither great nor amazing. However, in the interest of full disclosure, they do warrant a cautionary mention on the blog.

Perhaps some of you have ideas for improvements, or just need a extreme discouragement from taking this culinary road less travelled. In either case, I present the result of two days of making homemade pasta (an otherwise fantastic butternut squash reduction inside our own ravioli) that resulted in these two extra extra large raviolis on sandwiches.

Butternut squash ravioli sandwich with fried sage and paprika Butternut squash ravioli sandwich with Asian pear and balsamic vinegar reduction

Classic Beef Meatballs

While I have several meatball recipes already here on the site I figured it best to start at the beginning and show you How to Make Classic Beef Meatballs.

These Italian Beef Meatballs use ground beef, are light in breadcrumbs, get added fat from ricotta cheese and are seasoned beautifully with red pepper flakes and ground fennel.

I don’t go the bread soaked in milk route for these as the moistness coming from the ricotta is good, the cheese flavor doesn’t overpower, and they keep their shape well.

How to make meatballs with ground beef?

There is no wrong way to cook these. Many roast, some pan fry others braise them in a sauce.

How long do your cook meatballs?

I prefer to roll them, fit them snug in a baking dish and roast for 20 minutes in a 450°F oven (internal temp should be 165°F). I serve them up right from roasting with sauce poured over OR you can simmer them in the sauce and roast 15 minutes longer (optional).

This beef meatball recipe is perfect for any meatball sandwich, covered with melted mozzarella cheese. Piled high atop al dente spaghetti, napped with your favorite sauce (or gravy) depending on where you’re at. I believe calling it gravy elsewhere alludes to meat in the sauce though.

For these meatballs you can use my Spaghetti Sauce (Marinara Sauce) or my favorite, Arrabbiata Sauce. It’s a wonderfully rich, zesty and spicy tomato sauce made from crushed tomatoes, red wine, garlic and red pepper flakes that is slowly simmered with herbs and onion. My Pesto Alfredo is great for those who do not like a tomato based sauce.

For other Italian meals, try my Classic Chicken Meatballs, Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce, Orecchiette with Sausage and Spinach, or this Cheese Crusted Baked Ziti. For more meatball recipes, search the site and keep your eyes peeled for more in the series once a month. Enjoy!

For the gnudi: Line a large plate with three layers of paper towels or a clean dish towel. Transfer ricotta directly to paper towels and spread with a rubber spatula. Place another triple layer of paper towels or a clean dish towel on top and press down firmly with the palms of your hands to blot excess moisture. Peel off upper paper towels.

Place a large bowl on a scale and zero the scale. Scrape ricotta into bowl to weigh. Remove excess ricotta to leave exactly 12 ounces. Reserve excess ricotta for another use. Add Parmesan and season heavily with black pepper. Combine mixture with a rubber spatula. Season to taste with salt. Transfer to a large clean plate and spread into a thin, even layer. Transfer to freezer and let chill for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, transfer half of the semolina flour to a large bowl and the other half to a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. When ricotta is chilled, scrape it into a separate empty large bowl and fold it with a rubber spatula until no big chunks of frozen ricotta remain. Using a small cookie scoop, form a ball of ricotta about 1 1/2-inches wide (about 2 tablespoons) and transfer to the bowl with the flour. Using your fingers, scoop dry flour over the top of the ricotta ball.

Once the ball is coated, gently lift it and roll it around in your hands to form a neat sphere. Transfer it to the baking dish. Repeat with remaining ricotta. You should have about 16 to 20 finished gnudi. Sprinkle any remaining semolina in the bowl over the formed gnudi. Cover baking dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 and up to 3 days, turning the gnudi once per day. Once gnudi have formed a skin, they can be frozen. Transfer to a large plate or a rimmed baking sheet and freeze until solid, about 1 hour. Transfer to a zipper-lock freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to 2 months. Allow to thaw on a plate covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator overnight before cooking.

To Cook and Serve: Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat until foaming subsides, butter solids are golden brown, and butter has a nutty aroma. Add sage leaves, season lightly with salt, and cook, turning the leaves occasionally, until crisp, about 2 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the leaves to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Reserve browned butter off-heat.

Place the remaining butter in a medium skillet. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add gnudi and cook, stirring very gently, for 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the gnudi to the skillet with the butter, making sure that plenty of pasta water gets into the pan with the gnudi.

Place the skillet over high heat and cook, shaking the pan and gently stirring the gnudi until the butter and pasta water emulsify into a creamy sauce, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt.

Transfer gnudi and butter sauce to a warm serving dish or to individual plates. Top with fried sage leaves and drizzle with browned butter. Sprinkle with Parmesan and black pepper and serve immediately.

Acorn Squash Crostini with Ricotta, Bacon, and Fried Sage

Sure, Bradley Cooper and Ryan Gosling may be easy on the eyes. Sure, Adam Levine may be able to pull off the ragged dirty white t-shirt look.

But really, let’s be honest. I know you. Deep down, you don’t want any of that superficial nonsense. What you really want, what really gets you going… is a man that knows his way around the kitchen.

And ladies, we have plenty of that today.

Welcome to the Wolfpack Thanksgiving. 5 guys. 5 recipes. #hotness

Me? I’m bringing this killer Roasted Acorn Squash Crostini with Ricotta, Bacon, and Fried Sage to the party. It’s a seriously legit fall appetizer.

So let’s just break this down, shall we?

If you want great crostini, you need to start with some great bread. Your average lame baguette at the grocery store isn’t going to cut it. Look for a hearty, crusty loaf of something special. It is Thanksgiving, after all.

And ricotta. Sure, sure, you could go in the dairy aisle and pick up a plastic tub of whatever is on sale, but if you want to up your crostini game… go for the good stuff. Look for fresh, high-quality stuff. It’s worth it.

Please. Go for the thick-cut bacon. Splurge a little bit.

And for the love of all things that is right in this world… don’t skip the simple step of frying up some sage and drizzling on some honey. It totally takes this crostini from Ryan Seacrest to Ryan Reynolds.

If frying herbs is new to you… make it not new. It’s amazing… the sage gets nice and crispy and it gives it a mellow flavor. And really, let’s be super honest here… it just sounds great when you serve these to be like… oh yea, and it’s crowned with a beautiful fried sage leaf. Boom. Prepare to blow your guests’ minds.

Oh and one more thing… don’t go trying to substitute in regular old butternut squash. I mean, you totally could… but butternut squash already gets enough love in this world. Acorn squash is like middle child. It kinda gets overlooked. And it shouldn’t, because it’s waaaaay cooler than his older brother. Just saying.

Let’s talk about this Wolfpack, shall we?

We are a band of food blogger brothers… united by the sheer fact that dudes need to stick together. Especially in the food blog world.

David @ Spiced Blog is the grill master of the group… the dude is hardcore and will grill in the snow if he has to. He also grew up in the south, so the guy knows his comfort food.

Mike @ The Iron You is the health conscious one in the bunch. He competes in triathlons while simultaneously planning what kind of paleo-friendly awesomeness he’s going to cook up in the kitchen after.

Matt @ Real Food By Dad is always whipping up these crazy delicious sounding quick and easy meals. He’s got a few kids at home, so quick and easy are a must, especially when it comes to juggling their baseball schedules with weeknight dinner.

Sean @ Snack Fixation is a dude that loves to eat… he’s always bragging about all the awesome snacks he finds throughout NYC on Instagram (yea, I’m a bit jealous), and he’s also a beast in the kitchen.

If you aren’t already following these guys, you totally need to. They are the real deal in the kitchen…. super creative, all star recipes that constantly impress the heck out of me. And eve more important… they are genuinely awesome guys that love sharing their passion for food with others.