Homemade Meatball Sliders with Homemade Marinara Sauce

I have been going out and about trying to support the local small businesses for the past few days, but I wanted to do some cooking, and today was a good day to do it. I had a really productive day. I woke up around 3:30 AM and got some things accomplished early on. It left me with plenty of time to prepare what will probably be the basis of many meals this week.

I started by making some roasted peppers and onions, which I used with my marinara sauce and my meatball sliders. I also made an Italian type meatloaf. So there was a lot of prep work to do and a lot of good smells and tastes going on at my house this morning and afternoon.

I started things off with some roasted veggies. I set the oven to 475. I coarsely chopped 3 bell peppers (one orange, one yellow, and one red), along with three medium sized onions. I drizzled some olive oil and added some fresh ground salt and pepper. When the oven was ready, I turned it down to 450 and then let them cook for 45 minutes.

The aroma in my house was incredible. When I took these out of the oven, I had to prevent myself from taking a fork and eating them right then and there. I let these cool for about 20 minutes.

The next thing that I planned on making was some homemade marinara. I took about half of the roasted peppers and onions and finely diced them. Do not clean the roasting pan – it will be worth it to set it aside for later. I put the roasted peppers and onions in a pot with some olive oil (about one Tablespoon), and then started adding the rest of the ingredients for the marinara sauce, with the burner set at medium. I added one 30 ounce can of tomato sauce, plus half the can filled with water. This helped get the rest of the tomato sauce out. Next, I added one 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes, plus half the can filled with water. After that, I added one 6 ounce can of tomato paste and about one can filled with water (it takes more effort to get the extra bits of tomato paste out of the can). I stirred that all around for a bit, and then added some dried herbs and spices. I added 1/4 teaspoon marjoram, 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 teaspoon savory, 1/2 teaspoon oregano and 2 teaspoons of parsley.

I continue to stir until the first bubbles started coming to the surface. At this point I added in 1 Tablespoon of molasses and continued to stir until it came to a hard boil. I set the heat to low, loosely covered it with a lid, and continued to occasionally stir for the next 30 minutes. If I was going to be making pasta, I would let this cook for another hour or so, then I would let it cool, and then toss it in with the hot pasta.

The next step was to make the meatballs. I started by setting the oven to 400 degrees. I took the rest of the roasted peppers and onions and chopped them up. Not as finely diced as the ones for the marinara sauce, but cut up enough to be bite sized.

Next, I took one of the Cheddar Parmesan rolls I had purchased at The Breadery and ripped it up into little pieces. I added about 1/2 cup of milk and one egg and then mixed them all together. I could have used 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs, but I thought using the same roll I would be serving on would tie the flavors in well.

I then added in the roast veggies and continued to mix these all up. I did this by hand, but feel free to do whatever feels best for you.

Next, I added one pound of ground lamb and one pound of ground veal. You can use whatever meats work best for you, but I thought these two would make for a nice flavor combination. I added one teaspoon basil, one teaspoon rosemary, one teaspoon dill weed, one teaspoon crushed mint and one teaspoon anise seed. I then mixed all of these together until everything was just combined. I started from the outside of the bowl and folded it into the center, and continued doing that until everything was just blended.

I placed about three spoonfuls of the marinara sauce in the roasting pan and mixed it all around, making sure to get the bits of roasted pieces still stuck to the pan. I then rolled the meat mixture into one inch round balls and placed them in the roasting pan. I only made 20 meatballs, but this could have made between 30-35. I made a mini meatloaf with the rest of the mixture – let me know if you are curious about that recipe as well.

The meatballs cooked for 25 minutes, until they were at the proper temperature (160 for the meats I used today). Next came the assembly of the meatball sliders.

I heated up the Cheddar Parmesan rolls to give them a toasty exterior. I put in some shredded cheese and a little bit of marinara sauce, and then added the meatballs.

I have to admit that I wasn’t sure how this would all turn out, but these were the best meatball sliders I’ve ever had. I tried a meatball by itself, and it had really good flavor, but nothing that was over-the-top spectacular. The meats and roasted veggies worked really well together. But when I added the marinara sauce and the bread, the combination of those three things made my taste buds really happy. I don’t know if I’ll be able to replicate this again in the future, but at least I’ll be happy to be eating this for my next few meals during the week.

My weekend is not quite over, but this was a great way to end it and I was happy to get in some home cooking. It was easy to stay positive with my food tasting this good!


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