Baked Italian Oregano Meatballs

Paired with: Cline Ancient Vine Zinfandel

prep time 10 minutes

cook time 50 minutes

total time 1 hour

servings 6 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound ground spicy Italian Sausage may use ground beef if preferred
  • 2 slices thick soft whole grain or white bread
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup fresh oregano chopped OR 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses may use regular molasses
  • 1 tablespoon Gochujang Korean chile paste, optional
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic minced or grated
  • 1 (28 ounce) can san marzano tomatoes crushed by hand
  • 2 tablespoons harissa optional
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella sliced
  • 4 ounce provolone shredded
  • pasta for serving

INSTRUCTIONS

1.Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish with olive oil.

2.Add the ground sausage to a mixing bowl. Take the bread and run it under water until dampened, but not soaked. Gently squeeze the excess water out of the the bread and then crumble the dampened bread into pieces and add to the bowl with the sausage. To the bowl, add the egg, oregano, cumin molasses and Gochujang. Coat your hands with a bit of olive oil, and roll the meat into 2 tablespoon size balls (will make 10-12 meatballs). Place the meat balls in the prepared baking dish and place in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes or until the meatballs are crisp on the outside, but not yet cooked through on the inside.

3.While the meatballs are baking, combine the olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, harissa (if using) and a pinch of salt + pepper in a bowl. Once the meatballs are ready, pour the sauce over them. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 25 minutes longer or until the meatballs are cooked through. Remove the foil and add the cheese. Place back in the oven until the mozzarella and provolone cheese are melted and golden, about 10 minutes. Serve with fresh oregano and your favorite pasta or toasted bread.

RECIPE NOTES

*Gochujang (Korean chile paste) may seem odd in this recipe but it adds a great unique flavor and if you have some, give it a try!