Parmesan meatballs with orzo in basil cream sauce

I try to attempt at least one new recipe every week. Some are disappointing, but some are worth hanging onto, like this one. In our house, pasta and red meat are considered splurges, so this is a bit gluttonous for us. Don’t skimp on the basil or forget the lemon squeeze garnish; they make a huge difference. This recipe makes approximately a dozen 1-inch meatballs. I also halved the original orzo recipe; 12 oz of uncooked orzo results in way more than two adults could ever consume!

Parm meatballs with basil cream orzo.jpg

Parmesan Meatballs with Orzo in Basil Cream Sauce
(Original recipe: Carlsbad Cravings)

Start by preparing the meatballs:
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 cup finely freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup dry chopped onion
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 TBSP buttermilk

Combine all ingredients. Roll mixture into 1-inch balls and bake at 350F for 20 minutes. As they bake, boil 6 oz of orzo pasta. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce:
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 shallot, diced
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup frozen green peas
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
10 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade

Combine milk and heavy cream. Whisk cornstarch into the mixture; set aside.
Melt butter in olive oil over medium-low heat in a large skillet. Add shallots and garlic and sauté for 60 seconds. Sprinkle in flour and cook while stirring for 3 minutes then turn heat to low. Slowly whisk in chicken broth, then the milk/heavy cream mixture, stirring constantly until smooth. Bring the sauce to a simmer (you may have to increase the heat) while stirring constantly. Stir in mustard and dry spices; continue to simmer until almost thickened, stirring occasionally. Add peas and continue to simmer until thickened and peas are cooked through. Reduce heat to low and stir in both cheeses until melted. Fold in fresh basil.

Fold in cooked orzo and meatballs to the sauce. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan Cheese, fresh basil, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

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