I’m partial to the meatball. They’re incredibly versatile and easy to make, and for me, at least –they’re nostalgic. Over the years, I watched my Nonna handroll at least a thousand meatballs hovered over her speckled linoleum counter. My mom minced meat and garlic, and then hand-mixed and rolled them right on our kitchen island. As for me – I have three kids and zero time – so my meatballs come from places like Licious Italian Bakery & Cafe. Their beef meatballs are simmered in a tomato basil sauce and perfectly portioned for our family.
Our family recipe was never written down, and the ingredients were never measured. When my grandmother passed away, her meatballs went with her. And to me, those meatballs tasted like home. I spent years trying to replicate her recipe until I discovered Tre Sorelle in Orillia. Their recipe is authentic, perfected, and tastes…well, like home. My Nonna measured everything by eye, yet, every meatball was full of the same perfect flavour, every time. There was always a dusting of bread crumbs, at least one egg, fresh-cut parsley, salt, and pepper. The meatballs would simmer for hours in my family’s homemade tomato sauce. The walls of my grandmother’s kitchen absorbed the aroma of basil and garlic.
Few things can beat the comfort of a big bowl of pasta and meatballs on a chilly autumn night. And it seems like every family has its own secret recipe for this old-time favourite (hopefully, yours actually wrote it down). A little milk here, some ketchup there, maybe even some parsley or cheese. They’re easy to freeze, and you can even make them gluten-free (try Around My Gluten-Free Table in Barrie for gluten-free bread crumbs and pasta), and meatballs can even be made vegan. With this much variability, it’s the perfect side dish.
If you love fall flavours, then a simple turkey meatball, blended with stuffing seasoning, milk, bread, sautéed onions, and celery is a fool-proof Thanksgiving meatball. Serve over mashed potatoes with cranberry sauce, gravy, candied yams, and Brussel sprouts – and you have an entire Thanksgiving meal without the stress of making a turkey.
For a vegan twist, lentil and mushroom stuffing meatballs with sweet dried cherries are the perfect mix. Again, they pair perfectly with mashed potatoes – but this time, try a vegan mushroom gravy to keep it friendly for your herbivore friends. If you’re nervous about trying your hand at a vegan ball – try The Vegan Pantry in Barrie.
For other fun fall flavours, try adding apple butter and all-spice to your Swedish Meatballs for a spiced apple flavour. Or mix pumpkin puree, sage, cinnamon, and ground nutmeg into ground turkey and serve over spaghetti squash for the perfect fall dish.
Do you like to keep things traditional? Limoncello Bistro in Barrie has meatballs perfect for the main dish. Add fresh pasta and a crispy loaf of ciabatta bread for a warm and hearty comfort meal.
Our favourite thing about the meatball? They’re the perfect menu item to experiment with – and when you add seasonal ingredients, you may just be crafting a family recipe that will be passed down for generations.
Licious Italian Bakery & Cafe, Barrie
Tre Sorelle, Orillia
Around My Gluten Free Table, Barrie
The Vegan Pantry, Barrie
Limonello Bistro, Barrie