FOR THE TOMATO SAUCE:
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 ripe medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE MEATBALLS:
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups day-old bread, crusts removed, cubed
- 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef, extra ground
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
These little delights remind me of my grandmother, Thespena, for whom I am named. Her soutzoukakia were magical, and even though my mom and my aunts use the exact same ingredients, they have yet to replicate the flavor and texture of Yiayia’s. I still wonder if she had a secret ingredient she never divulged. Still, this is her recipe, and it will yield a fantastic result—secret ingredient or not! These are delicious with or without the tomato sauce when serving for a party.
TO MAKE THE TOMATO SAUCE:
1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot or Dutch oven.
2. Add the tomatoes, cumin, salt, and pepper.
3. Cook over medium heat, stirring every so often, until the tomatoes break down, about 5 to 7 minutes.
4. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the sauce has thickened slightly. Stylist: Please mash the tomatoes some to make it look more saucy.
TO MAKE THE MEATBALLS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Lightly oil a large baking dish.
3. Soak the bread briefly in a bowl of water, just to wet it all the way the through.
4. Squeeze the water from the bread, and transfer to a large mixing bowl. Use impeccably clean hands to gently mix the soaked bread and remaining meatball ingredients together until thoroughly combined.
5. Roll the meat mixture into little 1-inch round meatballs. Carefully arrange the meatballs in the prepared baking dish in an even layer.
6. Bake for 35 minutes. Turn occasionally for even browning? Remove the meatballs from the oven
7. Serve right away with the tomato sauce.