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Grassfed Beef Meatballs with Ditalini (Tiny Pasta) Recipe

I don't know about you, but I can never have enough ground beef recipes, and we love a little nostalgia...which is why this elevated "spaghettiO" recipe is in our regular rotation! These grassfed meatballs are super flavorful, tender, and just the right size to accompany the tiny pasta used here. The meatballs come together super easily and are great to prep in advance – simply mix up the ingredients, shape them and pop into the fridge until ready to get cooking.


For the Meatballs –

  • 1 Lb. 1915 Farm Grassfed Ground Beef
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 large pinches of kosher salt 
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 5 tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan (or pecorino), plus more for serving

For the Sauce – 

  • Splash of olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp paprika (not the smoked variety)
  • Two 28 oz. cans of tomato pureé (or simply add crushed or whole canned tomatoes to a blender and pureé) 
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 4 large sprigs of basil
  • 12 oz. ditalini pasta (anelleti also works) 


In a large bowl, add ground beef and the rest of the ingredients for the meatballs. Mix with a fork until just combined (over-mixing will lead to tougher meatballs). Scoop a rounded spoonful of the mixture and roll gently into a ball. Continue until you have about 20-25 small meatballs. Place in the fridge to chill for 10 minutes to firm up a bit – this will help them stay together better when cooking.

Place a large dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add a large splash of olive oil. Sear the meatballs for about 4-5 minutes per side, taking care to not try to flip them too early. They will easily release when they're ready to flip – listen to the meatball! ;) Once the meatballs are nicely golden on top and bottom, remove to a plate and set aside.

If not using tomato pureé for the sauce, add canned tomatoes to blender and process until smooth. In the same dutch oven you seared the meatballs in, add another splash of olive oil if needed, followed by the onion. Sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Clear a space in the pot and add tomato paste and paprika, letting it cook for a few minutes until bright red and fragrant. Stir well to combine, then add tomato pureé, sugar, a couple large pinches of kosher salt, and whole basil sprigs.

Simmer the sauce for 20-30 minutes with a lid slightly cracked (tomato pureé is known to spit / pop, so a lid is very helpful). Remove basil sprigs and discard. Taste the sauce and adjust salt levels if needed. 

Add meatballs to sauce for about 10 minutes, until cooked through and very tender. Keep warm with a lid on the pot until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, place a medium pot of salted water over high heat and bring to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta water before straining pasta. Add cooked pasta and reserved pasta water to the sauce and toss with a large wooden spoon until everything is nicely coated. Add freshly grated parm and toss again. 

Serve in shallow pasta bowls, garnish with additional parmesan and basil. 

We hope you love this recipe! If you’d like to share your delicious dish on Instagram, don’t forget to tag us @1915_Farm

P.S. If you can't get enough of our grassfed beef – consider one of our subscription boxes (ships free in TX, reduced in other states). Choose how often you would like your subscription box delivered, add extras when you want, and pause or cancel for free anytime. We'd love to have you join the Grassroots Meat Club! 


Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

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