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Mozzarella is melted over a meatball patty sauced with marinara and served with a tangy antipasti salad.


For the patties:
  • 2 pounds ground beef, 80/20
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¾ cup breadcrumbs
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup loosely packed Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated
  • 3 large cloves garlic, grated or chopped
  • ½ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, ⅓ palmful
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fennel seed or pollen or a combo of them, half a palmful
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
For the marinara sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons sundried tomato paste
  • ½ cup red vermouth or red wine
  • One 28-ounce can Italian crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes or ground pepperoncini, ⅓ palmful
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, about ⅓ palmful
To serve:
  • ¾-1 pound fresh mozzarella
  • A few leaves of basil, torn
For the Antipasti Salad:
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic, ⅓ palmful
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion, ⅓ palmful
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, ⅓ palmful
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley, ⅓ palmful
  • 1 teaspoon superfine sugar, ⅓ palmful (or 1 teaspoon honey)
  • ½ teaspoon crushed or ground red pepper, pepperoncini
  • 2 tablespoons wine vinegar, white or red
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 gem Romaine, or 1 heart Romaine, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped marinated artichokes
  • ¼ cup chopped marinated mushrooms
  • 1 roasted red pepper, chopped
  • ¼ pound Genoa salami or finocchiona (fennel) salami, deli sliced, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • Italian hot cherry pepper rings in brine, drained and chopped (preferably Cento brand)


Serves: 4


Preheat oven to 500˚F with rack at center.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place beef in large mixing bowl, season with salt and pepper, combine. Make a well in center of the meat and fill with breadcrumbs, moisten them with milk, add egg and cheese. Peel garlic and grate into bowl. Chop parsley and add to bowl. Add oregano and fennel, and drizzle in EVOO. Combine meat mixture, then score with hand and form 4 large thin patties and arrange on the parchment on two trays.  Place in oven and roast about 10-12 minutes, remove.

Meanwhile, preheat a deep skillet or a saucepot over medium to medium-high heat, melt the butter into the oil. Peel and finely chop or grate the onion, and add once the butter foams. Soften a bit while you peel and chop or thinly slice the garlic, add garlic to onion, stir a minute, add paste then vermouth or wine and bring to a bubble. Add tomatoes to sauce and season with chili and oregano, then reduce heat and simmer to thicken a bit.  

Grate the mozzarella on wide tooth side of grater.

Top the meatball patties with marinara sauce covering all the way to edges. Top the sauce with mozzarella and place the patties back in oven to melt the cheese, about 2-3 minutes.

Top the patties with basil and serve.  

For the antipasti salad, for the dressing, combine granulated garlic and onion, oregano, parsley, sugar and crushed red pepper in a Mason jar or plastic container, add vinegar, Dijon and EVOO, salt and pepper, shake to combine.

Combine lettuce, marinated artichoke hearts, mushrooms, roasted pepper, salami, onion, cherry peppers. Toss the salad with dressing to serve.