Meatballs and orzo cooked in a rich and delicious tomato sauce. Super easy to make and loaded with so much flavor. This one-pot dinner will blow you away big time. It hits all the notes – it’s fun to make, intriguing and it tastes freaking delicious.
Why You’ll Love this Meatballs in Tomato Sauce Orzo Recipe
The preparation needed for this dish is quite simple. Instead of boiling the orzo, we cook it directly in the pan in a deep and rich tomato sauce. The sauce is made with a base of pureed tomatoes, chicken stock and leftover fat from the meatballs.
We also add tomato paste and Parmesan to really deepen the flavor and bring out the best in the meatballs. When we cook the orzo in this sauce, the starch will not only emulsify the fats, but also turn the sauce slightly smooth and we’ll end up with a unique textural result. Serve with a sprinkle of fresh parsley and lots of parmesan to finish.
Let me guide you through the recipe with this step-by-step VIDEO.
- For the meatballs, I used a combo of ground pork and veal, but you can use ground chicken, turkey, beef or pork.
- Use rice or a small pasta shape instead of orzo.
- Instead of puréed tomatoes, use crushed tomatoes or tomato passata (in Europe)
- Add roasted bell peppers or sun-dried tomatoes instead of cherry tomatoes.
- Serve with a simple side salad drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
- Meatballs should be moist and unbelievably tender, so don’t overmix them by handling your meat as little as possible. Put everything into a bowl, and use your hands to carefully and gently mix herbs, egg yolk and breadcrumbs into the meat.
- Fridge: Leftovers are a treat for lunch or dinner and can be safely stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Freezer: If you’d like to prepare a larger batch, doubling the recipe is easy. Portion the meatballs with orzo and freeze it in separate airtight containers for a convenient and delicious option for future meals. It remains flavorful for up to 3 months.
More meatballs, please!
Cooking Video: How to Make Meatballs in Tomato Sauce with Orzo
Meatballs in Tomato Sauce with Orzo
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp olive oil divided
- 9 oz/250 g cherry tomatoes
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tsp each: black pepper dried oregano, sweet paprika, chili flakes
- salt to taste
- 5 oz/140 g tomato paste
- 7 oz/200 g dry orzo pasta
- 2 cups/500 ml low sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
- 1 can 14 oz/400 g tomato purée
- ¼ cup/40 g grated Parmesan more for serving
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley more for serving
- 1.1 pounds/500 g ground meat I used 70% pork with 30% veal
- ½ tsp each: salt black pepper, dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tbsp breadcrumbs
- Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl. Mix until just combined, using your hands. Roll the meat into 2 tablespoon-size balls.
- In a large non-stick skillet, heat butter and 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the meatballs and brown on all sides, about 8 minutes or until they’re cooked through, turning them 2-3 times. Add tomatoes, cook for 2-3 minutes, or until they start to burst. Transfer to a plate, leaving as much fat in the skillet as possible.
- In the same skillet, add the remaining oil and onion. Cook for 5 minutes over low heat. Add garlic, cook for 2 minutes more. Deglaze with 2 tbsp broth, and scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon to release the brown bits. Add salt, black pepper, oregano, paprika and chili flakes. Stir in tomato paste. Cook for 2 minutes. Add orzo and cook for 2 minutes more, stirring constantly.
- Pour in chicken broth, stir to combine and bring to a boil. Add tomato puree, give it a good stir, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes or until orzo is al dente. Stir from time to time.
- Stir in the parsley and Parmesan. Then slide the meatballs and cherry tomatoes back into the skillet. Cover, lower the heat and cook for 5 minutes more. Taste and adjust salt.
- Spoon the orzo and meatballs into bowls, top with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley. Enjoy!