Arugula Mozzarella Meatballs

Meatballs Title

When I was little, I had a rock collection.  It started with a box of colorful polished stones from my great-grandfather and trilobite fossils from the parks near our house in Cincinnati.  With every Girl Scout camping trip (with its natural fossil-hunting expedition) and every visit to a museum gift shop, it would grow.  Whenever my dad came home from a business trip, he brought with him some stones or gems for my collection.  I still have my rock collection, stashed in the closet of my bedroom in Minnesota.

Now I collect recipe ideas. I have a long list of recipe ideas from books, magazines, blogs, restaurants and my own imagination.  Some are on index cards. Some are in a notebook.  Some are just on a piece of card stock I carry with me from cookbook to cookbook when I am on a brainstorming spree.

Replicating my dad’s manicotti has long been on that list.  In fact, I think it appears multiple times on the list.  It was always the dinner I requested on my birthday, spinach and ricotta and beef stuffed into rolled pasta and covered in marinara sauce.  And yet somehow, I still haven’t made it myself.

Funny enough, these meatballs ended up tasting just like my dad’s manicotti filling.  I’m not sure how– I used arugula and parsley where he uses spinach, mozzarella where he uses ricotta.  But still, they taste exactly like manicotti filling.

Meatballs 3

Arugula Mozzarella Meatballs

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Yield: About 36-40 meatballs

Arugula Mozzarella Meatballs

You have lots of meal options when it comes to these meatballs. Try serving them alone or over pasta with a marinara sauce. They would also be great with an arugula pesto.


  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2/3 cup parsley, minced
  • 1 cup arugula, minced
  • 5 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten


  1. Preheat the oven to 425F.
  2. Warm the oil and brown the garlic and onions over medium-high heat. It should take about 7-9 minutes with occasional stirring for them to become tender, aromatic and browned.
  3. Toss the parsley and arugula with the garlic and onions. You'll want to use a fairly large bowl so that you have room for everything in the next step.
  4. Stir in the cheese, beef, egg and breadcrumbs. Dig in with your hands and keep mixing until everything is blended.
  5. Warm the skillet back up. Roll the meat into 1 1/2 - 2" balls. A few at a time, brown the meatballs in the skillet, turning every 1-2 minutes until they are browned on all sides. Do not overcrowd the pan!
  6. Transfer the browned meatballs to an oven-safe baking dish and bake at 425F for 15 minutes.


  1. says

    mmm, i love manicotti AND meatballs! i’m definitely going to save this recipe to make sometime soon – brad has really been missing meals centered around meat lately. i just haven’t felt like taking the time to thaw and cook any.

    i think he’ll forgive me for the long absence if i make him these. 🙂

    • Julie says

      You would LOVE the library sale we have in Ithaca every fall and spring, then. So many old cookbooks for super cheap!

  2. Tammy Guise says

    I love eating and trying out various recipes at home. As i have embraced vegetarianism I try finding veg alternative of every dish. For your excellent recipe, I have found below mentioned veg substitute. Try and tell me how it is!

    In a pan dry roast semolina for 2 to 3 minutes, keep aside.
    In a big bowl, mix gram flour, roasted semolina, fenugreek leaves, green chilies, yogurt, carom seeds, coriander seeds, black pepper, asafoetida, baking soda, sugar and salt.
    Make batter using 1/2 cup water, add water if needed, till you get a consistency where you can drop spoonfuls into oil, not like a liquid. set aside for 15 minutes.
    Heat oil in frying pan on high heat, when oil gets hot enough for frying, reduce flame to medium.
    To check if the oil is ready, put one drop of batter in the oil, batter should come up right away.
    Drop spoonfuls of dough, 5 to 6 at a time, into the frying pan. Fry until they are golden brown in color.
    Drain on paper napkin and serve hot

    • Julie says

      It works really well– gives you a very subtle cheesy flavor and helps keep them from drying out. Try it!

  3. Sue says

    There is no mention at all of salt and pepper? Was this an oversight? Any reviews from someone actually following and making this dish?


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