We adore sliders, the crowd-pleasing miniature version of hamburgers that can be eaten in two hungry bites. In this Encore Recipe, our “burgers” are actually meatballs, made with creamy ricotta and a touch of marinara sauce to keep them light and moist. Piled onto toasted mini buns with a dusting of Parmesan, they’re about to slide into your dinner hall of fame.
1 romaine heart
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon ricotta cheese
¼ cup breadcrumbs
1 16-ounce jar marinara sauce, divided
12 ounces ground beef, divided
6 brioche slider buns
¼ teaspoon anchovy paste
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese, divided
½ tablespoon olive oil
12″ large pan
1. Prepare Ingredients
Preheat oven to 450ºF. Rinse romaine heart and thinly slice crosswise. Halve lemon. Mince garlic and sprinkle over ⅛ teaspoon salt. Using a large knife, carefully scrape over mixture at a 45º angle, pressing down. Repeat until garlic is broken down and a paste forms.
2. Make Meatballs
In a large bowl, combine ricotta, breadcrumbs, 1½ tablespoons marinara sauce, 1 egg, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper as desired. Pat beef dry with paper towel. Reserve a small handful of beef on a small plate for making meat sauce; add remainder to bowl with meatball ingredients. Using your hands, mix well, then form into 6 equal meatballs, about 2 inches thick.
3. Bake Meatballs
Place meatballs on a foil-lined baking sheet, spacing apart as much as possible. Bake until slightly browned and cooked through, 15-18 minutes.
4. Cook Meat Sauce
While meatballs cook, heat ½ tablespoon olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add reserved beef and cook, breaking up, until browned, about 3 minutes. Add remaining marinara sauce and cook, stirring, until sauce thickens, 3-4 minutes. Season with ⅛ teaspoon salt and pepper as desired. Remove pan from heat. Once cooked, add meatballs to pan with sauce and turn to coat.
5. Toast Buns and Make Salad
Discard foil from baking sheet. Slice buns open horizontally, if they arrived whole, then arrange cut-side up on baking sheet. Toast in oven until lightly golden, 2-3 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together anchovy paste, mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon Parmesan, juice of 1 lemon, and garlic paste until fully combined. Season with ⅛ teaspoon salt and pepper as desired. Add romaine to bowl with dressing and toss to coat.
6. Plate Meatball Sliders
Divide bun bottoms between serving plates. Add meatballs, then a generous spoonful of meat sauce, then remaining Parmesan. Finish with bun tops. Serve meatball sliders with Caesar salad and dig in. (Using your hands for the sliders is highly encouraged!)