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5 Tips for Quick and Easy Italian Dinners

Make Meatballs in the Sauce
You don't get much more comfort food than this.
You don't get much more comfort food than this.

Few things inspire as much passionate debate as the best way to make Italian meatballs. These spheres of goodness can transform tomato sauce into something almost profound. There can be problems, though. Meatballs are time consuming and messy to make. If you've gone over to the dark side and purchased prepared meatballs, you probably already know that they often lack the moist, tender texture of homemade meatballs. Is there a secret to quick, tasty Italian meatballs? There sure is. Italian cooks who love meatballs but hate mess avoid the frying or baking process altogether. They use lean meats for their meatballs, and cook them right in the sauce.

Before you recoil in horror, think about it for a second. The meat juices -- we said juices, not fat -- get incorporated into the sauce for extra flavor, and there are definitely fewer dirty utensils in the sink at the end of the meal. The meatballs stay super moist, too. Give it a try; you won't be sorry.

The Italian meatball recipe below has great flavor and texture. It also uses lean ground beef. You can either bake the meatballs according to the directions or plop those luscious morsels right into your simmering sauce. If you add them to the sauce, put a lid on the pot and continue simmering for around 35 minutes. (The cooking time is based on 1-1/2 inch diameter meatballs.)