Meatballs in Marinara Sauce

I usually hate when there’s a month (or more) long approach to a holiday. Like seeing Hallowe’en paraphernalia right after Labor Day.

But it’s been so cold and snowy where I live that the Valentine’s Day heart things and the boxes of chocolates and a host of articles I’ve been noticing for the past week actually cheer me, even though the holiday is nearly 3 weeks away. Valentine’s Day means February is half over and we’ll be almost through this winter.

But Valentine’s Day is also a little sad for me because it’s one of the days I miss my Dad the most. He always sent me Valentines. Sometimes it was one of those cartoon cards children buy in packs to give to their classmates. But I could always count on getting a card from him. I miss them. And him.

His cooking? Well, not so much. He made fabulous pancakes and waffles, hot chocolate and a few other things. But entrees were not his forte. Once, when my Mom was sick he attempted meatballs in tomato sauce. He took plain meat, shaped them into mountain peaks and spread tomato paste on top. Then he broiled them. Ohmyohmyohmy were they bad. I don’t remember too many meals from when I was a kid but that one is vivid.

So, in honor of my Dad, with visions of Valentine’s Day and springtime and warm weather ahead, I give you my recipe for Meatballs in Tomato sauce the way Dad never made them.

Meatballs in Marinara Sauce 

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 28-ounce cans Italian style tomatoes, chopped, with liquid
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 pound ground veal
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 frozen hamburger buns, grated

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over low-medium heat. Add the onion and cook stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic and cook briefly. Add the tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of the basil and salt and pepper to taste. Bring the ingredients to a simmer and cook the sauce for 30 minutes. While the sauce is cooking, place the turkey, veal and beef in a large bowl and mix gently to combine them. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons basil, the parsley, eggs and the grated buns. Mix ingredients and shape into 12 meatballs. Place the meatballs on a baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes, turning them occasionally to brown on all sides. Place the meatballs into the cooked sauce. Cook for another 30 minutes.

Makes 4 servings