Fabio Viviani’s Perfect Meatballs & Tomato Sauce

Am I bombarding you with Fabio’s recipes??  I’ve had his recipes queued up in my folder for a while.  I started collecting his recipes around Thanksgiving time, and I knew I had to wait until the New Year’s to try them out.  So, here I am, obsessively making Fabio’s outrageously good dishes!!

I want to warn you about today’s recipe;  let me just tell you that you’ll be blown away!  Living in Philadelphia, I have been used to the Southern Italian cooking (mainly from Sicily).  Didn’t get many opportunities to try the Northern Italian style, until Fabio came!!  Fabio was born in Florence, so his cooking styles are from that region – and let me tell you, I’ve been learning a lot!!   Today’s meatballs are nothing like I’ve tasted around here, and the key ingredient is “ricotta”, which brings moist tenderness to these meatballs.  The combination of the meatballs and tomato sauce are so so soooo simple, you’ll kick yourself, but you won’t believe how delicious they are.  My family just dug right in with huge grins on their faces, a true sight to behold!


Tomato Sauce:

Yield: 2 Cups of Sauce

6 cloves garlic
6 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
28 oz can of whole plum tomatoes (packed in only tomato juice)
salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
3-4 leaves fresh basil for garnish

Smash 6 cloves of garlic with the back of a knife.

Over medium heat, cook garlic in 3 Tbsp. of EVOO until golden brown.

Add tomatoes and generous pinch of salt and pepper.

Cook until thick (about 8 to 10 minutes) and is no longer watery in consistency.

Add 3 more Tbsp. more of EVOO, turn to higher heat.
Crush tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon.

Cook until the oil turns red. This will tell you the sauce is done!

Cook’s Note: The sauce is very versatile and can be used with any pasta; added to meats, fish, vegetables; or topped on toasted crostini, breads, pizza crusts.


Yield: 8 meatballs

1 lb. ground beef (90/10)
4 oz. whole milk ricotta cheese
1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 egg
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
salt & fresh cracked pepper to taste
fresh parsley for garnish

Place all above ingredients in a medium sized bowl and mix thoroughly by hand until they are completely combined and the mixture is uniformly firm.

Coat your hands in olive oil, and using your hands form mixture into 3-4 oz. balls

Drop the meatballs into Fabio’s tomato sauce  and add some water so that the sauce can reduce and simmer. Let cook for about 10 minutes on one side.

Turn them over, add some more water and cook for another 10 minutes, covering in the sauce with a spoon as they simmer.
Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Garnish with chopped parsley, salt and pepper, more shaved parmegiano reggiano and a drizzle of olive oil, of course!

I made pasta and crostini (just slice French bread, lay them on baking sheet, drizzle olive oil, bake in 350F for 8 minutes or golden brown on the edges) on the side.    My family was dipping crostinis into  this precious olive oil left from the tomato sauce!  They truly could not have enough… wow… If you don’t make this (as you can see, the recipes are so simple, you’ll regret it!!)


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