This meatball pizza combines a few of my favorite things:
1) Lula kebab meatballs, full of fresh cilantro and green onion, made in the style of the kind of beloved Italian-American meatballs you might find atop comically large plates of spaghetti.
2) Banadurah harrah sauce, with lots of tomato, lemon, dried mint, and most importantly crushed red pepper.
3) Pizza dough, which can be either homemade or store-bought. You just need about a pound of it, and it doesn’t matter how you get there.
4) Stretchy mozzarella cheese. Save the fresh stuff for caprese, and use shredded here (or else you’ll end up with a soggy mess).
5) Fresh cilantro! Because I can never get enough of it.
The recipe itself is super easy, and pretty streamlined, considering you make the meatballs from scratch. The meatballs simmer in the tomato sauce, so you don’t have to dirty another pan. Then the tomato sauce is reduced down to the perfect consistency, so that the meatball pizza doesn’t end up soggy. The whole thing is baked in a sheet pan, so there’s no pizza stone required. Just make sure you roll out the crust thinly enough, or you’ll have a doughy center. If you have any issues getting the crust to cook through and crisp up enough, place the sheet pan on the floor of your oven for a few minutes until it’s done to your preference.Print
lula meatball pizza
- Prep Time: 45 minutes*
- Cook Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
- Total Time: 25 minute
- Yield: 4 to 6 servings
For the pizza dough:
175g water (3/4 cup)
5g active dry yeast (1 1/2 teaspoons)
4g sugar (1 teaspoon)
290g all purpose flour (2 1/4 cups)
4.5g salt (3/4 teaspoon)
25g extra virgin olive oil (2 tablespoons)
For the meatballs and banadurah harrah sauce:
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs (25g)
1/4 cup milk (60g)
1 pound lean ground beef (455g)
1 cup chopped cilantro (40g)
2/3 cup chopped green onion (40g), divided in half
3 cloves minced garlic (15g), divided in half
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Salt, to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil (15g)
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes (410g)
2 teaspoons dried mint (2g)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (0.5g)
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano (<0.5g)
1 tablespoon lemon juice (15g)
For the pizza:
225g shredded mozzarella (8 oz / 2 cups)
A handful of extra cilantro and/or mint leaves for garnish
- Make the pizza dough: Heat the water to 115°F (46°C).
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water, yeast, and sugar. Stir together and let it sit for about 10 minutes, until it’s a little foamy.
- Set your stand mixer up with the hook attachment. Add the flour, salt, and olive oil to the wet ingredients, and bring together at low speed. Once it comes together into a ball, knead for about 5 minutes at medium-high speed, until it smooths out significantly.
- Shape it roughly into a ball, and leave it in the stand mixer bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a plate, and let it proof for 1 1/2 hours, or until it’s doubled in size.
- For the meatballs and tomato sauce: Place the bread crumbs in a large mixing bowl. Pour the milk over them, smash them down a little with a fork, and let them sit for about 5 minutes to absorb it.
- Combine the hydrated bread crumbs with the ground beef, cilantro, half of the green onion, half the garlic, and the black pepper. Mix everything together evenly, but careful not to over-mix it or compress it.
- Shape the meat mixture into about 20 small meatballs, each weighing about 25g. Do not squeeze the meatballs together too tightly—they should be cohesive but a little craggy.
- Sprinkle the meatballs evenly with about 1/2 teaspoon salt, and let them sit while you get the sauce going.
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a 10-inch skillet for 1 minute. Add the other half of the green onions and the other half of the garlic, and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the diced tomatoes and let it come up to a simmer. Once it’s simmering, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring every minute or so, until the tomatoes break down into a thin sauce. If you’re not using a wide frying pan (e.g., if you’re using a tall saucepan), this may take longer.
- Add the dried mint, crushed red pepper, oregano, and lemon juice, season to taste, and give it a stir. Add the meatballs so that they’re all nestled into the sauce. Keep the heat at medium-low, cover, and cook for about 8 minutes, until the meatballs are partly cooked. Remove them with a slotted spoon to a plate.
- The sauce will be a little on the thin side once the meatballs cook in it. Skim some of the fat from the surface if there is a lot of it, and then simmer it over medium heat (uncovered and meatball-less) for about 5 more minutes, until it’s nicely thickened (see above photos to see the before and after).
- For the pizza: Preheat your oven to 465°F (240°C) convection (if you don’t have convection, it may take a couple more minutes to bake). Oil an 18×13” sheet pan.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll the pizza dough out to the width and length of the sheet pan. If it keeps shrinking back, let it rest on the counter for about 5 minutes, and then roll it out some more. Pull the corners out as you roll to help it become a rectangle. Place the dough rectangle on the sheet pan, and work the edges out all the way to the sides of the pan by pressing the dough with the tips of your fingers.
- Spread the tomato sauce into 1 thin layer over the surface of the dough, leaving a crust border at the edges.
- Top with the mozzarella. Then top with the par-cooked meatballs. Brush the crust with a little bit of olive oil.
- Bake for about 15 minutes, until the meatballs are completely cooked through and browned, the crust is baked through (especially toward the center) and turning golden brown around the edges, and the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Slice and serve immediately.
* buy pizza dough to shorten both active and total time