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Meatballs in Creamy Tomato Dill Sauce

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5 from 1 vote
Lemony meatballs in a creamy tomato and dill sauce.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
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. https://www.lanascooking.com/meatballs-in-creamy-tomato-dill-sauce/

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.

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. https://www.lanascooking.com/meatballs-in-creamy-tomato-dill-sauce/

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.

Tomato sauce cooking in a pot.

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.

Ingredients for meatballs in a mixing bowl.

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.

Forming meatballs on a board.

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.

Meatballs cooking in tomato sauce.

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.

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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. https://www.lanascooking.com/meatballs-in-creamy-tomato-dill-sauce/

Meatballs in Creamy Tomato Dill Sauce

Lemony meatballs in a creamy tomato and dill sauce.
5 from 1 vote
Print It Rate It Text It
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Inactive Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 508kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1 | Calories: 508kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 129mg | Sodium: 950mg | Potassium: 778mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 705IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 140mg | Iron: 5mg

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.

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9 Comments

  1. Good for you for posting a classic! After teaching hundreds of newlyweds and others of all ages in cooking classes I have stopped thinking that people just “know” how to make basics like this one. So many people just don’t. No one ever taught them! I like the change-up of lemon and dill too. I can see where that would lighten and brighten it right up!

  2. Comfort food! I love eating meatballs, but can’t talk myself in to making them often enough. The dill sounds interesting!

  3. Ooh spaghetti and meatballs is a standby in my house as well and I love the addition of lemon and dill! Definitely a stroke of genius :-)

  4. I’ve just discovered your blog, very cool design. Pasta, tomato sauce and meat is an evergreen, I always enjoy. Nice pictures!