Pizza Meatballs with Pesto Pasta

We could all use a little comfort (and health) during this challenging time and where better to find solace than with a delicious, healthy meal. Jill's recipe will dish up both comfort and flavor. And, the aroma of this dish will call people to the kitchen and the taste will make them smile. We could all use a smile. 😊

So, create your own personal retreat by filling your home with great tunes and scented aromas and cozy up to comfort.

Ingredients (Makes 54 Meatballs – Serves 6 to 12 Entrées):

  • 1 – pound Wild Idea Premium Ground Buffalo Meat
  • 1½ – cups pizza sauce
  • 1 - teaspoon oregano
  • 1 – teaspoon fennel seed, crushed
  • ½ - teaspoon thyme
  • 1 - teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ - teaspoon salt
  • ½ - teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 - tablespoons olive oil, plus more for rolling meatballs
  • 1 – cup crushed seasoned bread stuffing (*optional - if you leave out, reduce pizza sauce to 1 cup)
  • pasta of your choice - cooked al dente
  • Basil Pesto (recipe below or purchased)


    1. Mix all ingredients together, excluding Ground Buffalo.
    2. Crumble in the Ground Buffalo and mix until well incorporated.
    3. Rub your hands with olive oil to roll the meatballs and place on a baking sheet.
    4. Bake at 425° in a preheated oven, on the top rack for about 7 minutes.
    5. Prepare pasta per directions, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water. Do not rinse the pasta.
    6. Pour the reserved pasta water back in the pot and add the pasta and desired amount of pesto. Toss to incorporate and heat through.
    7. Place desired amount of pasta on plate and top pasta with 4 to 6 meatballs.

      Basil Pesto
      *I am not a pine nut fan, but if you are, add ¼ cup to ingredients.


      • 2 - cups fresh basil leaves, packed
      • 2 - cups shredded parmesan cheese
      • 3 - garlic cloves, chopped
      • 1 - teaspoon salt
      • 1 - teaspoon pepper (I like a little more)
      • 2 - tablespoons lemon juice
      • 1 - cup olive oil


      Place all ingredients in blender and puree until smooth. Refrigerate.

      *Substitute spices with others, such as Italian seasoning for the meatballs and fresh spinach for the pesto. 

      Photo Credit: Jill O'Brien

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      • Fantastic recipe! We used zucchini noodles.

        Paula Wahl
      • This looks great! As I’m “sheltering in place” for the duration, but love to cook and bake (and can take it next door to my fire chief neighbor for his troops), I’m thinking I may try this as a meat loaf. I’m not big on meatballs. But meatloaf and pesto (WITH pinenuts; pesto is a staple here!) or sauteed spinach sounds terrific!

        Jill, I love your practice of combining all spices first. I use that tip now for all my chilis and it makes a huge difference. Combining these spices and then adding the ground bison will make Grandma’s Meat Loaf rise to the 21st century!

        Y’all stay safe up there!

      • This meatball recipe looks a lot like mine, altho I use chopped garlic, sweet peppers, onion, eggs and forget the pizza sauce! I take 4-6 meatballs into the wilderness with me for part of my lunch. Very satisfying! I am going to try the pesto sauce – it looks delish! Thanks, Jill, for all your good recipes featuring Wild Idea Buffalo!

        Liz Aicher

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