Meatballs in Creamy Tomato Dill Sauce – a fresh take on meatballs and spaghetti with lemon zest in the meatballs and dill and cream in the tomato sauce.
Sometimes I feel creative and adventurous in the kitchen. That’s when I really enjoy taking ingredients and making them into something new, fresh, different. Other times I’m simply stuck in a rut.
Those are the days when I fall back on my kitchen classics. Pot roast. Baked chicken. Omelets. You know what I mean, right? The recipes you can throw together without even thinking about them?
One of my, and probably your, fall-back standards is spaghetti and meatballs. I used to work with a great friend who, just as regular as clockwork every Wednesday afternoon, said that she was going home to fix her family’s weekly “dose” of spaghetti. I can relate.
On days when I just can’t summon up another drop of creativity I always know that I can count on spaghetti and meatballs for a dinner that, if not memorable, will be at least be satisfying and enjoyable.
A few days ago I was in the kitchen preparing a “dose” of spaghetti and meatballs when I had a semi-creative moment. What if I didn’t make them with the usual Italian style seasonings? What if I did something a little fresher? Could I mix some lemon and dill in there somehow?
I’m happy to say that my tiny moment of creativity paid off quite happily. The lemon zest in the meatballs and the dill and cream in the tomato sauce made this recipe a happy departure from the classic. Hope you enjoy it, too.
How to Make Meatballs in Creamy Tomato Dill Sauce
Start with the tomato sauce first.
Heat a medium saucepan and add some butter and oil. Toss in some onions, garlic, and celery and cook until the onion is tender but not browned.
Stir in the diced tomatoes with their juice, dillweed, salt, and pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring ocassionally, while you prepare the meatballs.
In a large bowl, combine the egg, bread crumbs, onion, and lemon peel and salt. Add the meat and mix thoroughly. Form into 16 meatballs.
I always find it’s easier to make meatballs if I shape the meat into a square or rectangle and cut it into portions before I start shaping. It helps me get more consistent sizes. If I don’t do that I end up with some the size of ping pong balls and some the size of tennis balls!
In a large skillet, cook the meatballs for 8-10 minutes or until no pink color remains. Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce. Slowly add the whipping cream or half-and-half to the sauce and meatball mixture.
Cook, stirring constantly, for an additional two minutes or till the cream is heated through. Serve over spaghetti, linguine, or noodles.
Notes: If you’d like a richer sauce, you could add a couple of tablespoons of butter and double the cream at the end of cooking. On the other hand, if you’d like to lighten the recipe even more, you could substitute turkey for the ground beef. This would also be delicious with ground lamb instead of beef.
🧾 More Recipes You’ll Like
- Jumbo Meatballs and Spaghetti
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- Sweet and Sour Meatballs
- Baked Meatballs and Spaghetti
HAVE YOU TRIED THIS RECIPE?
I’d LOVE to know what you thought!
Leave a rating below in the comments and let me know how you liked it!
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Meatballs in Creamy Tomato Dill Sauce
For the sauce:
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 ribs celery chopped
- 29 ounces canned diced tomatoes with juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (or 1 teaspoon dried dillweed)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ cup whipping cream or half-and-half
For the meatballs:
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- ½ cup soft bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
- 1 ½ teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 12 ounces ground beef or turkey
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- Add the butter and oil to a medium saucepan placed over medium high heat.
- Cook the onion, garlic and celery until the onion is tender but not brown.
- Stir in the tomatoes with their juice, dillweed, salt and pepper.
- Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, prepare the meatballs.
- In a large bowl, mix the egg, bread crumbs, onion and lemon peel and salt.
- Add the meat and mix thoroughly.
- Form into 16 meatballs.
- In a large skillet, cook the meatballs for 8-10 minutes or until no pink color remains.
- Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce.
- Slowly add the whipping cream or half-and-half to the sauce and meatball mixture.
- Cook, stirring constantly, for an additional two minutes or till cream is heated through.
- Serve over spaghetti or linguine.
Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.
More Meatball Recipes …
- Southwest Turkey Meatballs with Creamy Cilantro Dipping Sauce from Skinny Taste
- Grilled Sriracha-Sesame Turkey Meatballs from Kalyn’s Kitchen
- For the Love of Cooking’s Baked Penne with Meatballs