Beef-Ricotta Meatballs with Braised Beet Greens

Serving Size: 6
Total Time:

The secret to these luscious meatballs is using ground beef that has a fairly high fat content and mixing it with fresh ricotta, milk-soaked bread and aromatic seasonings like fennel and lemon zest.


  • 0.5 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 carrot, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 celery rib, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 3 anchovy fillets in oil, drained and chopped
  • 0.5 cup tomato paste
  • 1 Pound beet greens, coarsely chopped
  1. PREPARE THE GREENS In a pot, heat the oil. Add the carrot, onion and celery, season with salt and pepper and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until the vegetables are very tender and caramelized, 20 minutes. Add the anchovies and tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the anchovies dissolve and the tomato paste is deep red, 5 minutes. Add the beet greens, season with salt and pepper, and cook, tossing occasionally, until wilted, 7 minutes.


  • 0.33 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 0.5 Tbsp ground fennel
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 0.5 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 0.25 cup canola oil
  • chopped oregano, for garnish
  • 0.5 cup fresh ricotta cheese
  • 1 Pound ground beef (25 percent fat)
  • 2 Ounce day-old bread (one 1-inch thick slice)
  • 0.25 cup whole milk
  • flaky sea salt, for garnish
  1. MEANWHILE, MAKE THE MEATBALLS In a bowl, soak the bread in the milk until the milk is absorbed, about 5 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the beef, ricotta, Parmigiano, egg, lemon zest, crushed red pepper, parsley, fennel, kosher salt and black pepper. Squeeze any excess milk from the bread and add the bread to the bowl. Mix the meat mixture well, then roll it into eighteen 1 1/2-inch balls; transfer to a baking sheet.
  3. In a cast-iron skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the canola oil. Cook half of the meatballs over moderate heat, turning, until golden brown and no longer pink within, about 15 minutes. Repeat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of canola oil and meatballs.
  4. Rewarm the beet greens and transfer to a platter; top with the meatballs. Serve garnished with Parmigiano, chopped oregano and sea salt.

Make Ahead: The uncooked meatballs can be refrigerated overnight. The cooked greens can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

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Recipe Credit: Ori Menashe
Image Credit: Rick Poon