This recipe is a crowd pleaser. Easy to make. Delicious. One of the favorites from my cookbook Cuisine Nicoise: Sun-kissed Cooking from the French Riviera (where you find out why they are so named!)

So here you go….one to try this holiday weekend! I sometimes make them small and serve as an appetizer, sometimes medium size to serve 4 per person with the sauce I given below. This recipe makes 24 medium-size meatballs. Bon appetit!

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

In a saucepan, bring water to a boil, add 1/4 cup rice, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Cook rice till tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.

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.

Add 1 clove minced garlic, tomatoes and 1 teaspoon salt; simmer for 15 minutes. Keep the sauce warm until ready to serve.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat a baking dish with cooking spray or olive oil.

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.

Place the flour on a large plate. Roll the meat into the size meatballs you would like (about 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.

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.

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.

Foodie books for great Memorial Day Weekend reading:

In this funny, frank, tender memoir and New York Times bestseller, the author of A Homemade Life and the blog Orangette recounts how opening a restaurant sparked the first crisis of her young marriage.

Anne Willan demystified classic French culinary technique for regular people who love food.  Her legendary La Varenne Cooking School—in its original location in Paris and later in its longtime home in Burgundy—trained chefs, food writers and home cooks. Under Willan’s cheerful, no-nonsense instruction, anyone could learn to truss a chicken, make a bernaise, or loft a soufflé.In One Soufflé at a Time, Willan tells her story and the story of the food-world greats—including Julia Child, James Beard, Simone Beck, Craig Claiborne, Richard Olney, and others—who changed how the world eats and who made cooking fun.

A Tiger in the Kitchen: A Memoir of Food and Family

“Starting with charred fried rice and ending with flaky pineapple tarts, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan takes us along on a personal journey that most can only fantasize about–an exploration of family history and culture through a mastery of home-cooked dishes. Tan’s delectable education through the landscape of Singaporean cuisine teaches us that food is the tie that binds.”

–Jennifer 8. Lee, author of The Fortune Cookie Chronicles

   Eating Wildly: Foraging for Life, Love and the Perfect Meal

Divided into chapters devoted to a variety of edible/medicinal plants, with recipes and culinary information, Eating Wildly will stir your emotions and enliven your taste buds—a moving memoir about the importance of family, relationships, and food.

Although it’s chilly and rainy here today, the oven is doing double duty cooking a fresh raspberry pie while heating the kitchen! Hope you have a sunny, warm, and happy holiday weekend!



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