By Vida Gustafson

Contributing Writer

I’d like to share this shortcut to delicious, simple meatballs with you. When I first heard about it, I wasn’t sure if it would work, but after I tried it, I couldn’t imagine why I hadn’t done it sooner. While there is still a place in my heart for classic, bread-soaked-in-milk, fresh herbed, onion and garlic meatballs like my mother used to make, these are a great time-saver. You can have textbook-perfect meatballs ready in half an hour, ready for a sandwich or spaghetti (with a jar of sauce). Customize these meatballs with whatever pesto you happen to have in the pantry!


  • 1 lbs. ground beef
  • 3-4 tbsp pesto (traditional basil or sundried tomato)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)
  • ½ cup bread crumbs (optional)


Preheat oven to 425 ° F. Mix the ground beef with your pesto, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes (if using). Use a teaspoon to evenly portion out meatballs of about 1 inch and roll to smooth. Dip your hands in water before rolling to keep the meat from sticking to your fingers. Drop them into the breadcrumbs to coat and lay them on a lined baking sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes. Alternately you can brown these in a saucepan or poach in a tomato sauce for 10-15 minutes over a low heat.