Polpette alla Alejandra with Roasted Pepper and Tomato Sauce
- 2 large red bell peppers, halved, seeds removed
- 1 medium onion, halved
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 8 large Roma tomatoes, scored*
- Olive oil
- Coarse sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- ¼ cup fresh basil, packed
- 1 lb organic, grass-fed ground beef
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs + 1 cup more for coating
- 2 tbsp raisins
- 1 tsp dry oregano
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp reduced-fat milk
- Canola oil
Pre-heat oven at 425° F
Arrange bell peppers and onions, facing down, on a baking tray; add garlic cloves. Cut top of the tomatoes off to create a flat surface and arrange, score-side-up, on tray. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes (or until skins of peppers and tomatoes are visibly detaching/peeling).
Remove from oven and allow cooling off. Peel off skin from peppers and tomatoes using kitchen pliers or a fork.
Transfer everything to a deep bowl, including drippings, and add fresh basil. Using an immersing blender, carefully mix all ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning. Set side (or refrigerate if doing ahead of time).
Heat oven at 375° F
In a large bowl combine ground beef, cheese, breadcrumbs, raisins, oregano, pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Whisk egg, combine with milk and pour over beef mixture. Gently combine all ingredients (avoid over-mixing). Let mixture rest for at least 10 minutes.
Make meatballs and coat with a small amount of breadcrumbs, making sure not to compact or press hard. Heat a couple of tbsp of canola oil on a sauté pan over medium-high heat; brown meatballs on all sides for about 3-4 minutes in 2 different batches, if necessary.
Transfer meatballs to deep baking dish or pan; pour roasted pepper and tomato sauce over, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes.
Serve meatballs at the bottom of a shallow bowl and top with extra sauce. I love how great this goes with a quick kale salad (just drizzle with olive oil and fresh lemon juice) and fresh mozzarella or burrata cheese. Yum!
* Scoring a tomato: Using a pairing knife, cut an X on the end of the tomato opposite to the stem. This will make very easy to peel away the skin once the tomato is roasted.