The lamb meatballs are flavored with mint, basil and parsley for a nice bright flavor that works beautifully with the creamy red sauce. I use a bit of cream with the sauce, but if you are counting calories, you could eliminate. Use lots of fresh basil to garnish and sprinkle with parmesan as desired!

A little cream at the end and a smooth red sauce is a wonderful complement to the lamb meatballs

Serves 4-6


for lamb meatballs:

  • 2 lbs ground lamb
  • 1 small onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil
  • 1/8 cup packed fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Italian bread (crusts removed)
  • 3 tablespoons whole milk ricotta (could also use sour cream)
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder

for red sauce:

  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4=cup cream
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)

for orzo:

  • 2 cups orzo
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 shallots, finely minced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 bunch julienned basil for serving
  • Grated parm for serving (optional)


for meatballs:

Preheat oven to 425. In a food processor, pulse together onion, garlic, basil, mint and parsley until finely chopped. Add bread and ricotta and pulse several times until combined. Add remaining ingredients and pulse an additional 5-10 times to incorporate. Take a heaping couple of tablespoons of lamb mixture and roll in the palm of your hand. Place meatballs on a parchment lined baking sheet about an inch apart. (You can prepare the meatballs in advance and refrigerate until ready to bake later). Bake meatballs for about 25 minutes until cooked through.

for red sauce:

In a medium saucepan, heat butter to medium low. Add onion and garlic and sauté for about 5 minutes until fragrant and translucent. Add chopped tomato and about 1/4 cup of water, bring sauce to a boil, cover and reduce heat to a simmer for at least an hour. Adjust seasonings to taste adding additional salt, pepper and crushed red pepper if using. Remove from heat and transfer to food processor or blender and process until smooth. Transfer back to saucepan, add cream and keep warm.

for orzo and serving:

While meatballs are baking and red sauce s simmering, use a large skillet with lid (I love my enamel skillet for this), heat butter, oil, shallots, garlic on medium low heat to soften onions and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Next raise the heat to medium high, add your orzo and sauté for about 3 minutes allowing orzo to crisp a bit and absorb the flavors. Add the stock to the pan and bring mixture to a boil. Cover the pan and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes until orzo is cooked. Check the pan halfway through to ensure the bottom is not browning. When orzo is al dente, transfer your prepared creamy red sauce in the pan, reserving extra sauce to drizzle on meatballs. Serve orzo in wide rimmed bowls, topped with meatballs and extra sauce. Garnish with basil and parmesan. Enjoy!