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Now that football season is in full swing, we’re all about lazy Sundays watching football and snacking. One staple in our house for football season is meatballs – and these sliders are one of our favorites!

Meatball Sliders | Live Love Pasta 

These sliders are a terrific addition to a tailgate party or buffet of appetizers at home. These meatballs are also super kid-friendly! What kid doesn’t love a meatball sandwich? Especially one that’s stuffed with mozzarella cheese. Mmmm!

We doubled the batch and made 2 sets of the meatball mixture – one with the fresh basil and one without (we wanted to make it more kid friendly.) We used a Le Crueset Dutch oven for the first set and it was sticking a little, even after adding more olive oil. The only upside to this sticking was when we added the sauce to simmer with the meatballs, all the delicious bits of stuck meatball came off and enhanced the flavor even more! The second set (without basil) was cooked in a nonstick skillet. The appearance was better and the meatballs didn’t stick, but they still tasted the same. If we did this over, we’d suggest using a nonstick pan – it’s just easier to handle than the Dutch oven.

You might have these guys in your pantry already!

Your meatballs start with these.

Begin by cooking the onions.

We recommend this tomato paste, but any one will do!

Pour in the tomato sauce, paste and spices and get cooking.

Mix the ground beef, egg, onion, garlic, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, fresh basil and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Use your hands to combine all the ingredients, but be careful to not overwork the meat.

Who cut the cheese?

Form the meat into balls, about 3 tablespoons of meat in each ball. Press a small cube of mozzarella into the center of the meatball  and form the meat back around the cheese making sure the meat completely covers the cheese.

In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Place the meatballs in the pan and allow them to brown slightly before trying to flip them over. Cook for about 3 minutes per side. They don’t need to cook all the way through because they will finish cooking in the tomato sauce.

Add them to the sauce and continue cooking on low heat for about 20 minutes.

To make the pesto, add fresh basil, garlic, parmesan cheese, pine nuts and salt and pepper to a food processor.

Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while pulsing. You can add a tablespoon or 2 of water if you want to thin out the pesto.

This pesto is the best! It really adds a nice, slightly spicy freshness to these sammies.

Place a meatball onto the bottom half of a roll. Top the meatball with a spoonful of sauce and a slice of provolone cheese.

Put in the oven for about 4 minutes keeping the tops of the buns separate from the bottoms. Once the sliders are out of the oven top with a spoonful of pesto, place the top on the roll and serve.

You’ll do your own touchdown dance after you bite into these sliders!

Here’s the Recipe:
Ingredients
For the Sauce:
1 28-ounce can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste

For the Meatballs:
1 pound ground beef
½ onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 egg
½ cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
Mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes (as many cubes as meatballs you’re making)
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

For the Pesto:
4 cups fresh basil
¼ cup pine nuts
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
½ cup olive oil (more or less depending on thickness)
1-2 tablespoons water, if pesto needs thinning

For Assembling:
10-12 soft dinner rolls
3 tablespoons butter, softened
10-12 slices provolone cheese
grated parmesan cheese, to sprinkle on top of the rolls

Directions
Start by making the sauce. In a large sauté pan heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and onion and  sauté until they’re fragrant and the onion just starts to become translucent.

Season with salt and pepper then add the dried parsley and basil. Continue simmering the sauce over low heat, stirring occasionally.

To make the meatballs, combine the ground beef, egg, onion, garlic, bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, fresh basil and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Use your hands to combine all the ingredients being careful to not overwork the meat.

Form the meat into balls, about 3 tablespoons of meat in each ball. Press a small cube of mozzarella into the center of the meatball  and form the meat back around the cheese making sure the meat completely covers the cheese.

In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Place the meatballs in the pan and allow them to brown slightly before trying to flip them over. Cook for about 3 minutes per side. They don’t need to cook all the way through because they will finish cooking in the tomato sauce. Add them to the sauce and continue cooking on low heat for about 20 minutes.

To make the pesto, add fresh basil, garlic, parmesan cheese, pine nuts and salt and pepper to a food processor. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while pulsing. You can add a tablespoon or 2 of water if you want to thin out the pesto.

Place a meatball onto the bottom half of a roll. Top the meatball with a spoonful of sauce and a slice of provolone cheese. Put in the oven for about 4 minutes keeping the tops of the buns separate from the bottoms. Once the sliders are out of the oven top with a spoonful of pesto, place the top on the roll and serve.

Nom. Nom. Nom