Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Fettuccini with Mozzarella-Stuffed Lamb Meatballs

When the meatballs are as flavorful and tender—and cheesy—as these are, you don’t need much else in your pasta bowl. Some noodles and a simple marinara will do the trick. 

If you have time to make the marinara from scratch, all the better. Otherwise, choose good-quality canned crushed tomatoes and add your own garlic, onion, and herbs.

Note: I used six cherry-sized mozzarella balls, called ciliegine (“cherry” in Italian), and halved each one to stuff into the meatballs. If you use a larger mozzarella ball, simply cut 12 half-inch pieces for stuffing.

Serves 4


For the Meatballs
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/3 cup fine, fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 cherry-sized fresh mozzarella balls, halved (or 12 1/2-inch pieces of fresh mozzarella)
For the Pasta and Marinara
  • 8 oz fettuccini
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2-1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

For the Meatballs
  1. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine the lamb and next 7 ingredients (through basil) in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Roll the meat mixture in 12 1-1/2-inch-diameter balls. Make a hole in the center of each and place a piece of mozzarella inside. Reform the balls around the cheese and place on the baking sheet.
Meatball Mixture 
Mozzarella and Meatballs 
Stuff the Mozzarella inside the Meatball
  1. Bake until tender and just cooked through, 20-22 minutes, turning halfway through. (Some of the cheese may ooze out. Nothing wrong with that!)
Meatballs Ready to Bake 
Meatballs Halfway Through
For the Pasta and Marinara
  1. Cook the fettuccini in boiling, salted water until al dente, 11-12 minutes. Drain.
  2. Heat a large, deep skillet over medium-low heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook 3 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a light simmer, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook 20 minutes.
Onion and Garlic 
Marinara Beginning to Cook
  1. Add the meatballs and drained pasta to the sauce, stirring gently to combine.
Add the Meatballs to the Marinara
Add the Fettuccini
Divide among pasta bowls and serve.

Fettuccini with Mozzarella-Stuffed Lamb Meatballs

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