naked meatballs

The following is one of my most treasured recipes that I included in Cuisine Nicoise: Sun-kissed Cooking from the French Riviera. I had never heard of it before until I learned about it while living on the Riviera. In French, it is called Tout Nus. Very loosely translated into English, it means Naked Meatballs. They are made around Nice, and you can find them in restaurants there. I normally make 4 large ones per person, with a tomato sauce in a bowl for dipping. Enjoy!!!

Naked Meatballs


  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup rice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced, divided
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 teaspoons fine sea salt, divided
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 (9-ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed very dry
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons orange marmalade
  • 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour


  1. In a saucepan, bring water to a boil, add 1/4 cup rice, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Cook rice until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. In another saucepan, heat olive oil; add the onion and cook about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and cook on medium-high another 5 minutes, until the onion turns light brown.
  3. Add 1 clove minced garlic, tomatoes, and 1 teaspoon salt; simmer for 15 minutes. Keep warm until ready to serve.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat a baking dish with cooking spray or olive oil.
  5. In a large bowl, add the cooked rice, ground beef, ground pork, spinach, eggs, marmalade, remaining garlic, 2 teaspoons salt, and breadcrumbs. Mix with clean hands until very well blended.
  6. Place the flour on a large plate. Roll the meat into the size meatballs you would like (anout 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of meat), rolling them lightly without compacting too much. Then roll each meatball in the flour and shake off any excess.
  7. Place the meatballs on the baking dish, put into the oven, and bake for 16 minutes, or until done. If you make them smaller, bake for 8 to 10 minutes.
  8. To serve, spread a little sauce on a plate and set the meatballs in the sauce, or alternatively, line them down a plate and serve with a small bowl of sauce to dunk them in.





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