It's easy to come up with excuses not to cook. Even I do it sometimes. I have a regular conversation with myself most days around 5:30 p.m. that I like to call "the Burrito Debate."
I happen to love burritos. In addition to being utterly delicious, they're everything one needs in a meal in one complete, monstrous sizable package. The downside, of course, is that they're full of refined carbs (rice, tortilla) and one burrito typically has enough calories to satisfy three linebackers-which, alas, I am not.
But man, at 5:30, after a day of working, sometimes cooking dinner is the last thing I want to do, and that's when the Burrito Debate gets started:
PRO: My favorite taqueria is on the way home! They'll be so happy to make me a burrito!
CON: Eating one will make me uncomfortably full and probably lead to me passing out by 8 p.m.
PRO: There's fiber in beans!
CON: Bean farts.
Sometimes I give in, of course. But when I don't, I like to make meatballs. Throwing these together is almost as easy as ordering a burrito, and the payoff is much greater. This interpretation comes together in minutes and satisfies deeply. I like to serve them in tomato sauce with a few dollops of ricotta and eat them with a spoon so I can get lots of sauce and creamy ricotta in every bite.
If you feel compelled to make this a complete meal, add some crusty bread and a crisp green salad. If, however, you prefer eating them out of a bowl in your pajamas on the couch, come sit by me.
Total cost of ingredients: $13.50
INGREDIENTS1/2 pound ground beef (80/20 is ideal) $3
3 tablespoons onion, finely chopped (about 1/4 medium onion) 50 cents for a whole onion
2 cloves garlic, minced pantry
3/4 cup ricotta (preferably whole milk) $3.50 for 14 ounces
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated (not shredded) $3.50 for 10 ounces
1 handful fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped $1 for a bunch
1/4 teaspoon salt pantry
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper pantry
dash red pepper flakes optional
1 egg yolk $1.50 for 6
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed pantry
DIRECTIONSCombine all ingredients except olive oil in a mixing bowl. Use your hands to mix thoroughly.
Wet your hands slightly, and roll the meat mixture into 1-inch balls. Set the balls on a clean plate or baking sheet.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
Cook the meatballs for 2-3 minutes on all sides, until browned and cooked through.
Serve as they are, or in warm tomato sauce with a few dollops of ricotta and more parsley.