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Provolone Stuffed Meatballs

Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time45 mins
Servings: 4 people


Meatball Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs or panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 lb ground beef (80% lean)
  • salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp Calabrian chile paste or 1 TSP crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds (optional)
  • 2 cloves large garlic, grated or finely chopped or 1 TSP garlic salt
  • 1 cup (packed) baby kale or stemmed Tuscan kale, finely chopped
  • 1 cup (loosely packed) grated Pecorino Romano (about 2 oz.)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2-3 oz provolone, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • cooking spray or olive oil for brushing
  • Pasta or veggie pasta of choice
  • shredded cheese for garnish

Sauce Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves large garlic, grated or finely chopped or 1 TSP garlic salt
  • 2 tbsp sun-dried or regular tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup sweet (red) vermouth or red wine
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 can (about 14 oz.) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup passata (uncooked tomato puree) or 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • A few leaves of fresh basil, torn


  • Preheat oven to 425
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and top with cooling rack
  • In a small bowl, mix the breadcrumbs and milk
  • Let stand until the crumbs soften, about 3 to 5 minutes
  • Add the beef to a large bowl and season with salt and pepper
  • Add the chile paste, garlic, and fennel seeds (if using)
  • Mix in the kale, Pecorino, and egg
  • Place mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill (this makes it easier to form the balls)
  • Once chilled, roll into balls about the size of a large walnut
  • Press 1 piece of provolone into each meatball, then enclose the cheese with the meat
  • Spray cooling rack with cooking spray (or brush with oil) and place meatballs as you roll them on the rack
  • Roast the meatballs for about 15 minutes in oven 
  • While the meatballs are cooking, for the sauce, in a large pot, heat the oil, two turns of the pan, over medium
  • Add the garlic (if using) and stir until aromatic, a minute or two
  • Stir in the tomato paste, then the vermouth or wine, oregano and garlic salt (if using)
  • Stir in the tomatoes, passata, stock, and basil
  • Season with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, and garlic salt (if not using garlic cloves)
  • Simmer the sauce over low heat while the meatballs finish cooking
  • Add the meatballs to the sauce and cook for about 5-10 more minutes until almost cooked through 
  • Serve over pasta or veggie pasta of choice
  • Top with additional cheese