Parmesan Meatballs with Orzo in Basil Cream Sauce

In our house, pasta and red meat are considered splurges, so this meal is a treat for us! Cheesy meatballs, creamy orzo, and the freshness of the peas. YUM! Don’t skimp on the basil or forget the lemon squeeze garnish; that freshness and acid make a huge difference to the flavor profile!

Parm meatballs with basil cream orzo.jpg

Parmesan Meatballs with Orzo in Basil Cream Sauce
(Original recipe: Carlsbad Cravings)

Meatballs
1-1/2 lbs ground beef
1/4 C panko bread crumbs
1 C finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 C onion, chopped
1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
1 TBSP dried parsley
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 TBSP buttermilk

Sauce
1/2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 TBSP butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 shallot, diced
1 TBSP all-purpose flour
1 C chicken broth
3/4 C milk
1/4 C heavy cream
1 TBSP cornstarch
1/2 TBSP Dijon mustard
1/3 C freshly grated Parmesan
1/3 C shredded mozzarella
1/2 C frozen green peas
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
10 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade

In a large bowl, combine all meatball ingredients. Roll mixture into 1-inch balls and bake on a cookie sheet at 350F for 20 minutes.

As they bake, boil 6 oz of orzo pasta according to the directions. Drain and set aside.

To make the sauce, combine milk and heavy cream. Whisk cornstarch into the mixture; set aside.

Heat butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and garlic; sauté until soft, about 1 minute. Sprinkle in the flour and cook while stirring for several minutes to cook off the flour taste.

Turn heat to low. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and the milk/heavy cream, stirring constantly until smooth. Bring this sauce to a simmer. Stir in mustard and dry spices, stirring occasionally. Add peas and continue to simmer until the sauce is thickened and the peas are cooked through. Reduce the heat to low and stir in both cheeses until melted. Fold in fresh basil.

Fold in cooked orzo and meatballs to the sauce. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan Cheese, fresh basil, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Serve immediately.

NOTE: This recipe makes approximately a dozen 1-inch meatballs.

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