CTV Recipes

All Recipes
Clear all
Dietary Concerns
More Options

Search Recipes

Baked meatballs with pesto and ricotta

"Aaron’s first birthday that we celebrated together fell on the same day he was playing a show at the Rivoli in downtown Toronto. I surprised him with a homemade cake—but no dinner. The next year, when I asked him what he’d like, he answered, “Spaghetti and meatballs.” Year after year, his birthday meal has remained the same and, while I’m not sure what recipe I used over a decade ago, these new super-tender meatballs are now his favourite birthday feast."


Get Mary Berg's cookbook, Well Seasoned, here.



  • 1/2 cup plain fine breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped basil, divided
  • 3 teaspoons finely chopped oregano, divided
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 10-1/2 oz lean ground beef
  • 7 oz mild Italian sausages
  • Olive oil
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup prepared basil pesto


  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs and milk and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the egg and then stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano along with three tablespoons of the parsley, two tablespoons of the basil, and one teaspoon of the oregano.
  4. Grate the shallot into the bowl on the large side of a box grater and add the garlic. Season with the salt and pepper, add the breadcrumb mixture, and stir well to combine.
  5. Add the ground beef to the bowl and split open the sausage casings with the tip of a sharp knife. Squeeze the meat from the casings into the bowl, and discard the casings.
  6. Using your fingers almost like rakes, gently and thoroughly mix everything together, being careful not to squeeze the mixture in your hands, as that will lead to tough meatballs.
  7. Divide the mixture into 12 evenly sized pieces and gently roll into large balls.
  8. Place the meatballs on a large baking sheet and drizzle with oil to coat.
  9. Bake just until browned on the bottom but not yet fully cooked, 10 to 15 minutes.
  10. Remove from the oven and set aside. Leave the oven switched on.
  11. In a 9-inch square or round baking dish, combine the tomatoes with one tablespoon of oil as well as the remaining one tablespoon each of parsley and basil and remaining one teaspoon of oregano.
  12. Season with salt and pepper and mix to combine.
  13. Nestle the meatballs into the tomato sauce and dollop the ricotta over top.
  14. Return the meatballs to the oven until their internal temperature reaches 160°F to 165°F, 20 to 25 minutes.
  15. Remove from the oven and spoon the pesto over top before serving as-is or with crusty bread or your favorite pasta. 

Follow Mary Berg:

You might like

View All Recipes
One Pot Tomato Orzo One Pot Tomato Orzo
Ricotta Gnudi with Brown Butter Tomatoes Ricotta Gnudi with Brown Butter Tomatoes
Greek Tacos Greek Tacos
Charlie Barely Meatballs Charlie Barely Meatballs
Saka Saka Saka Saka
Fish Meuniere Fish Meuniere