Brown rice pasta has become quite a staple in our house since we went gluten free. My kids absolutely love it. We probably enjoy pasta at least once a week, and typically on nights when we’re shorter on time. To give us a change of pace from basic pasta with sauce, I reinvented my favorite meatball recipe, which contained fresh bread and parmesan cheese, to adhere to our gluten and dairy free needs. My original recipe created a paste using torn up pieces of white bread soaked in milk (called a panade) to create tenderness. In this gluten and dairy free reincarnation, I make fresh bread crumbs in the food processor from the end pieces and scraps of gluten free bread that I keep frozen in a recycled bread bag until I need them. These meatballs are great over pasta, but are equally great wrapped inside a piece of gluten free bread or sliced in half and tucked into a toasted gluten free french loaf and enjoyed as a meatball sandwich.
Traditionally, meatballs are browned in a skillet before simmering in pasta sauce. However, when I double or triple this recipe to make a large batch of meatballs (for the freezer) I find browning the meatballs in the oven on a rack set over a foil lined pan works great and speeds up the process significantly.
Why not whip up a batch of these meatballs this weekend to enjoy next week when you are short on time? I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.
- 1 cup fresh gluten free bread crumbs
- ½ cup unsweetened, unflavored rice milk or milk of your choice
- ¾ pound Certified Angus Beef (80% lean) ground beef
- ¼ pound ground pork
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 large egg yolk
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for pasta cooking water
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- Olive oil
- 4-6 cups tomato sauce
- 1 pound gluten free pasta
- Place breadcrumbs in a large bowl and pour rice milk over to soak. Using a fork, smash the bread crumbs into the milk to create a smooth paste.
- Add the beef, pork, parsley, egg yolk, garlic, salt and pepper to the mashed bread mixture. Using a fork or your fingers, gently mix until evenly combined.
- Form the mixture into 1½ inch round meatballs (about 15). If the mixture seems too loose to allow the meatball to stick together, add a few more tablespoons breadcrumbs.
- Pour oil into a large 12" skillet until it measures a depth of ¼". Heat over medium high heat until shimmering. Add the meatballs, without crowding, and cook until nicely browned on all sides. (Alternatively, to brown a larger batch of meatballs, place a wire rack that has been coated with cooking spray on a foil lined sheet pan. Cook meatballs on rack in the oven at 375 degrees, turning occasionally until browned on all sides, about 15 minutes.)
- Transfer meatballs to a paper towel lined plate. Discard any remaining oil left in the skillet.
- Place the skillet with the browned meatball bits back on the heat and add the tomato sauce. Bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits as you stir. Return the meatballs to the skillet and reduce the heat to low. Simmer meatballs for 15 minutes or until a thermometer reads 160 degrees when placed in the middle of the meatballs.
- While meatballs are simmering, bring 6 quarts of water to boil in a large pot for the pasta.
- Once the water begins to boil, add a generous tablespoon kosher salt followed by pasta. Stir regularly to prevent sticking. Cook according to package directions. Drain.
- Divide the pasta between individual serving bowls. Top with sauce and several meatballs.