This dish blew my mind the first time I tried it. I’d always made meatballs with red sauce, enjoying the balancing act between the rich and savory protein and the brighter, more acidic sauce. These meatballs, adapted from Chez Panisse Cooking by Paul Bertolli, came to my table when my mother-in-law Monique visited us last year. So many wonderful flavors come together when you bake the veal meatballs with artichokes, cherry tomatoes, green olives, lemon, garlic, and sage; the result is savory and complex without feeling busy.
Mise en Place is everything here. There are quite a few ingredients, but they are all quick to prepare (some are even store bought in jars!). Finding ground veal can be tricky; ground pork, beef, or even chicken can work. I highly recommend trying the veal if you can, because the delicate and rich flavor marries so well with the bright pan sauce that results from finishing this dish in the oven. When you brown the meatballs, deglaze the pan with chicken stock or white wine. Reduce the liquid to a few tablespoons, and pour over the meatballs and other ingredients in your baking dish. There’s no reason to squander any of the beautiful flavors you’ve developed; the resulting sauce in the baking dish is so phenomenal I’ve considered drinking it.
Fettuccine was our starch of choice this evening; the pan sauce I mentioned coated the pasta beautifully. White rice with bay and garlic is a nice accompaniment, too. Serve with a crisp white wine, if you’re feeling fancy.
Veal Meatballs with Artichokes, Olives, and TomatoesPrint Recipe
- 2 medium white onions, sliced
- 1 cup marinated artichoke hearts
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup pitted green olives
- 1 T chopped parsley
- 1 T chopped sage
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 2 lb/900g ground veal
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper
- 2 T lemon juice
Sweat the onions in a shallow sauté pan over medium heat until translucent.
While the onions cook, combine the veal, parsley, sage, egg, breadcrumb, parmesan, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper.
Add half of the onions to the veal mixture, and spread the remaining half in the bottom of a large baking dish.
Add the tomatoes, olives, artichokes, garlic, and lemon juice to the baking dish.
Form the veal mixture into balls 2-3 oz, or 60-80g.
Brown the meatballs in the same pan you used for the onions.
Deglaze the pan if the layer on the bottom is getting too dark.
Place the meatballs in the baking dish, and pour over any liquid remaining in your sauté pan.
Bake the meatballs at 350°F/176°C until the internal temperature reads 160°F/71°C.
Serve with pasta or rice.
This dish also freezes beautifully.