Lemony Pork and Pecorino Meatballs with Summer Squash Orzo

I was told by my oldest daughter this weekend that I was “FIRED”.  It didn’t take long after her moment of boldness for the rest of my household to add in their complaints to the mix.  “There is no milk, no eggs, no cereal!” In my defense there was peanut butter, oh…but sadly no jelly. The refrigerator –  filled with leftover bowls of this and that, desperately needing to be cleaned out. What can I say? I’ve been busy cooking, writing, working on menus for clients and then there is … the daunting task of shopping.  What are the top two things I miss the most about working in a professional kitchen?  A dishwasher and a food supplier who delivers everything straight to your door.  Before you start to feel sorry for these poor starving children, think again – they got it good.   Guilted, (slightly) by their complaints, I decided to make something I knew would make them happy…meatballs.

A meatball, is a meatball, is a meatball, right? Wrong… I disagree.  There are such a wide variety of deliciously curious ways to scoop and roll up these tasty little bites. These meatballs are filled with lots of freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese that give the flavor of  the pork a sharp salty nuttiness.  The method of simmering the meatballs in white wine and bay leaf add an incredible amount of flavor and moistness to the meat.  Adding in the orzo and whatever fresh vegetables you have in the house makes it a complete dinner.  This recipe makes enough meatballs for two meals, some for now and some for later. Later being the next time they have a plate full of waffles and you know there isn’t any syrup. 
Lemony Pork and Pecorino Meatballs with Summer Squash Orzo
2 eggs
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
¾ cup dry bread crumbs (plain)
½ cup fresh flat-leafed parsley –finely chopped
Zest of 2 large lemons

1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary-finely chopped
4 fat cloves of garlic (or 8 small) – minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
24 oz lean ground pork
½ cup all purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
2 bay leaves

  • In a medium bowl combine eggs, cheese, bread crumbs, parsley, zest, rosemary, garlic, salt, and pepper. 
  • Add pork to the eggs and mix until just combined. Careful to not over mix or the meatballs will have a tough consistency.
  • With a 1 oz  ice cream scoop (2 tablespoons) form meatballs-about 30
  • Toss lightly in flour and set aside
  • Heat a large skillet (with a lid) with 3 Tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat
  • Lightly brown meatballs on all sides (1/2  for this recipe 1/2 to save for later) –about 4-5 minutes
  • Add in white wine and bay leaf, bring to a boil for about 3 minutes (to reduce the wine) then reduce the heat to a simmer- cover and allow to cook for 6-8 minutes or just until meatballs are cooked through
  • Remove from heat while preparing the pasta.

2 cups orzo pasta
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup yellow summer squash- small dice
1 cup green Italian zucchini- small dice
¼ cup flat leaf Italian parsley –finely chopped
¼ cup sun dried tomatoes – small dice
1 garlic clove- minced
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper

  • Fill a medium sauce pot with water for the pasta- bring to a boil and add in 2 teaspoons of salt
  • Add in orzo and cook 6-8 minutes or until aldente – drain (reserving ¼ cup cooking liquid) and add into meatballs with ¼ cup of the cooking water.
  • Toss pasta through with meatballs – add in squash, zucchini, parsley, tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper.
  • Serve warm

8 comments… add one
  • 12th Man Training Table June 8, 2010, 9:30 am

    Looks delish!

  • Cooking with Kait June 8, 2010, 3:44 pm

    This sounds so moist and flavor. There is something about meatballs that is very comforting.

  • Heidi June 9, 2010, 4:26 am


    What do you use to get that nice completely black background? It looks great and really helps the food stand out.


  • Kristen June 9, 2010, 1:38 pm

    I have been craving good meatballs lately! Your pictures are making me more hungry. It's time to get out some ground pork, get off the computer and start cooking!!!

  • Nicole Schwartz June 11, 2010, 1:05 am

    Thanks for checking out my blog. I actually got my bunt pan for Mother's day and was super excited. Those pictures look great. I have not had meatballs in soooo long, but now I want some!
    I am off to Sonoma County this weekend for a BBQ grilling cooking class at Ramekin's tomorrow night and then wine tasting and dinner at The girl and the Fig on Sat night. Going to take lots of pictures and maybe do a post on it.
    Have a good one!

  • Abby June 15, 2010, 2:35 am

    I certainly hope you get e-mail updates of your comments…

    I made this tonight and it was so amazing! My boyfriend even approved and wants it to go on our regular rotation.

    I did a few things different- I don't like parsley so I didn't add that, instead I used just fresh rosemary. I also sauteed the vegetables and added red pepper, a fresh tomato (instead of sundried) and mushrooms.

    I also used turkey because I couldn't find ground pork at the grocery.

    Anyway, great recipe! Thank you so much for sharing. =)

  • dining table December 16, 2010, 1:25 am

    I love the presentation of the dish! Very pretty and so engaging! Thanks for sharing this recipe.

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