Friday, April 8, 2011

Mini Meatball Sliders

First off I have to give a shout out to my daughter Kathryn.  It's her birthday today and we are going to party like it's 1999!

Okay not really because none of my children get that reference but we are going to have lots of fun anyway.

I asked her the other day what she wanted for her birthday.  This is the list she gave me:
1.  American Girl Doll.
2.  Walk dogs at the animal shelter.
3.  Eat brownies with ice cream, hot fudge, and caramel.
4.  Have spaghetti for dinner.

Sweet!  I love lists like those.  We can definitely fulfill three of those wishes and we'll see what Dad says about the other.

I had to laugh about walking dogs.  This is one of her favorite all time things to do.  I'm not kidding.  When I ask her what we should do she always says, "can we go walk the dogs?"

We use to have a dog and everyone in my family but me hopes to have another dog very soon.  I am just not an "animal person".  Never have been and probably never will.  Growing up I loved to play with dolls and barbies, my girls on the other hand have always loved to play animals (little pet shop, my little pony, horses, dogs, you name it, they play it).  I use to get them dolls but not anymore so it's no surprise they want a dog and every other animal they can think of.

I did give in and let them have a bunny last year.  They are completely in charge of him and it actually works out quite well.  But against much protestations still no dog at this house.  So to let Kathryn get her fill we walk dogs at the animal shelter.  She loves it and so do the dogs.  Perfect combination!

Speaking of perfect combinations, these meatball sliders with homemade pesto is absolutely delicious.  It was a hit with the kids and quite easy.  I had never made homemade pesto before but it was very simple and a perfect addition to the meatballs.

Mini Meatball Sliders

2 T. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 oz.) can tomato puree
1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce
2 t. dried parsley
1 t. dried basil
1/2 t. dried oregano
2 t. salt
2 T. sugar

1/2 c. breadcrumbs, divided 
1/4 c. milk
1 lb. ground beef
1 egg
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. black pepper
1 t. dried parsley
1/2 t. dried basil

1 c. packed fresh basil leaves, rinsed and dried
2 small cloves garlic
2 T. pine nuts
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese (the real stuff makes a huge difference)
Salt and pepper, to taste

About 2 dz. white dinner rolls
Spray olive oil
Sliced provolone cheese (about 12 slices, depending on size.  We also used cheddar because my children have suddenly developed an aversion to white cheese)

1.  To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.  Add the onion to the pot and sauté until tender, 5-8 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, stirring, about 1 minute.  Add the tomato puree, tomato sauce, parsley, basil, oregano, salt and sugar.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer.  Let simmer for at least 2 hours.  It will get quite thick.  If you want it thinner add some water.  I didn't need to but it's up to you.

2.  To make the meatballs, combine 1/4 c. of the breadcrumbs with the milk in a medium mixing bowl.  Let stand 10 minutes.  Add the remaining breadcrumbs, ground beef, egg, garlic, salt, pepper, parsley and basil to the bowl.  Mix well until thoroughly combined.  Form into meatballs, about 1¼ inches in diameter.  Add the meatballs to the simmering sauce about 45 minutes before the sauce is finished.  Cover and let simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, 35-45 minutes.

3.  To make the pesto, combine the basil, garlic and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until finely chopped.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  With the processor running, add the olive oil in a steady stream through the feed tube until well incorporated.  Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and stir in the grated Parmesan.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4.  To assemble the sliders, preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Slice the dinner rolls in half and lay open on a baking sheet.  Spray the rolls lightly with olive oil.  Bake for 5 minutes, just until lightly toasted.  Slice a cooked meatball in half and place both halves on the bottom portion of a roll, flat side down.  Spoon a small amount of sauce over the meatball.  Top with sliced cheese.  Repeat with the remaining rolls.  Bake 5 minutes more, just until the cheese is melted.  Spoon a small amount of additional sauce over the cheese, and finish with a small spoonful of pesto on top.  Serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Source:  Annie's Eats

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