Mini Gouda-Stuffed Meatballs in Marinara Sauce + Friesland

July 24, 2014

Mini Gouda-Stuffed Meatballs in Marinara Sauce + Frisland

Friesland! What a place.
I spent three days exploring the splendor of this Northern region of The Netherlands and it has been a fantastic experience.
As you may remember, I stayed at my sister’s mother-in-law’s house.
I have to figure out how to explain that Gerbrich (i.e., my sister's mother-in-law) is just a part of my extended family at this point. I know it may sounds awkward because most people don't know their siblings' in-laws; but to me, Gerbrich feels like family.
Can I just say? What a doll.


She's the perfect host and a dear, kind, intelligent and well-travelled lady. I cannot think of a better person to stay with.
She has a beautiful home in which she me made me feel as welcome as her own son.
The house is surrounded by a beautiful garden blooming with flowers of vibrant colors. I became kind of obsessed with an old water pump...

Farm and water pump well as with this rainwater tank and the chicken coop...

Rainwater tank and chicken coop

What about Friesland?
For starters, it’s a gorgeous place.
It’s flat, like the rest of The Netherlands but it has the lowest population density of any other province. Acres and acres of pastures, hayfields, woodland, and of course water.
In The Netherlands water is everywhere. Ditches, canals, rivers and lakes. You name it.
And if there's water, you can bet there's a windmill somewhere...

Monday was rainy and windy so we decided to stay in. We just took a quick trip to the grocery store to pick up things to munch on.
The next morning we woke up to the most glorious sunshine. After breakfast we took the bikes for a nice ride to the historic town of Dokkum, which is about 10 miles away from Gerbrich’s house.
First off, let me tell you how much I like to ride a bike for pleasure and not to hit some target training goal. It’s so refreshing.
Plus, Holland is ideal for cycling. There's probably no better way to discover Holland than by bike.
Bike paths are everywhere, the flat landscape means the cycling is rarely strenuous, and there’s always something interesting around the corner to explore.
I actually stopped so many times on our way to Dokkum to take pictures of the scenery, I think my sis and J (i.e., her husband) wanted to kill me at some point. [Sorry guys!]
Dokkum is an historic city full of charm and beauty.

There are windmills, canals, amazing cheese shops (yum!), flower shops...
Dokkum shops and canals

We were exhausted by the time we got back home, so I offered to cook dinner.
What shall I make?
Do something American, something like spaghetti and meatballs!
Wait, what? Spaghetti and meatballs? For real?
Yes, please, we love it!
So I did. But just the meatballs and the marinara sauce. I don’t care about spaghetti...
Mini Gouda-Stuffed Meatballs in Marinara Sauce

I made mini meatballs, because I knew the kids would go nuts for them.
To give it a bit of a Dutch twist, I added a cube of smoked gouda in the middle.
The meatballs are juicy and tender and when the melted cheese oozes out...well, you have a winner there my friend.
The marinara is sweet, tomatoey and tastes really fresh. I love adding fresh herbs and garlic to any tomato sauce, because they really elevate the flavors of it.
The dinner was a huge success and there were no leftovers. Zero, or in dutch Nul!

Mini Gouda-Stuffed Meatballs in Marinara Sauce
Mini Gouda-Stuffed Meatballs in Marinara Sauce                                         Print this recipe!

Serves 6 to 8


¾ lb / 340 gr grass-fed organic ground beef
¾ lb / 340 gr organic ground pork
3 cloves of garlic, minced
¾ cup / 2.65 oz / 75 gr almond meal
2 free-range organic eggs
¾ cup / 2.3 oz/ 65 gr grated Parmesan cheese
2 large handfuls chopped fresh parsley
¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 oz / 113 gr smoked gouda, diced (into about ¼-inch cubes)

Marinara Sauce

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 oz) can tomatoes
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 handfuls chopped fresh basil


In a large bowl combine ground beef, ground pork, garlic, almond meal, Parmesan cheese, eggs, salt, pepper and parsley in a mixing bowl.
Mix together well with hands.
Scoop a teaspoon of meat mixture. Flatten it in your palm to form a roughly 2-inch circle. Add one piece of the smoked gouda. Carefully fold the meat around the cheeses. Roll in your palms to form the meat ball. Repeat to make all meatballs (about 50 meatballs).
Heat olive oil in a large skillet (or heavy pot) over medium-high heat. Add meatballs, in batches, turning to brown. Remove and drain on a paper towel after each batch. Set aside.
In the same skillet (or pot), add the onions and garlic and cook for a few minutes, or until translucent. Pour in whole tomatoes and crushed tomatoes. Add salt, pepper, sugar, and parsley.
Stir to combine and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes.
Add meatballs to pot and stir in gently. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for further 15 to 20 minutes, stirring very gently a couple of times during the simmer. Don't worry if the cheese oozes out a bit; it will just let your guests know that there is a cheese inside!
Just before serving, stir in basil.


  1. These meatballs look fantastic! I'm just going to change my dinner plans for tonight. Thank you so much for sharing! I've discovered your blog recently and I love comming back here for so many inspiring recipes. Many greetings form Poland! :)

    1. Thanks Kasia! I'd love to visit Poland, I've heard great things about it.

    2. You should definitely do it one day! We have a lot of great places worth visiting here. :)

  2. My husband would love these! Gorgeous photos!!

  3. Oh wow, I'm kind of speechless right now. That place looks absolutely beautiful! I hope you're having a phenomenal time there! And these meatballs look both lovely and delicious! xx

    1. I'm having such a great time CO, I want to stay here forever!

  4. Sounds like such a peaceful and beautiful vacation so far! Gorgeous photos!
    Haha, I drive my friends crazy too, with all the stopping to take gotta do what you gotta do when the inspiration strikes you, right?
    Love the sound of these meatballs and adding Gouda in the middle is a fantastic idea!

    1. The Gouda here is so good Lyuba, like nothings I've tested before!

  5. Cheese stuffed meatballs sound soo.. good right now (it's cold and rainy here)! I'm so glad you drove everyone crazy taking pictures, really enjoyed your post today!

  6. Sounds like you landed in heaven, my friend. Oh! how I envy you. I think I too, would constantly stop to take a picture or a few hundreds! I am so adding this place to the list of places I must visit before I die. Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. This is such a great place Sonia, you should definitely visit it, at least once!

  7. So glad you are enjoying Holland. In one of your photos you captured one of the things I love most about Holland: the intense colors (in this case the grass). Your Gerbrich looks like a lovely lady. And I'm impressed that you said that Dokkum is AN historic town. You can cook and you are well educated. Can't get too much better than that. (Don't mind me, I just finished a wine and chocolate snack.) Your meatballs with smoked Gouda sound wonderful. I'll have to see if I can get my husband to let me make these - assuming I can find smoked Gouda - because he is the official spaghetti maker in the family. He makes the only spaghetti I like, actually. That's the one thing I could never make. I think you'll change that for me, though… :-)

    1. Actually, the majority would disagree with us about using 'an' instead of 'a' before historic (such as my English high school teacher).
      The argument is that 'a historic' is correct because the initial letter ‘h’ is pronounced.
      Still, it sounds weird to me so I prefer using the archaic form and say 'an historic' like ‘an honor’, ‘an hour’, or ‘an heir’.

  8. HI Mike, looks and sounds like your are in heaven, what a gorgeous place. So nice of you to cook for everyone, great choice.

  9. Great post, loved it, loved it, loved it!

  10. Dude, sounds absolutely stunning there! So beautiful... have an amazing time there... and loving the look of your balls #wolfpackeats

  11. Mike, your post just took me away to a wonderful place for a few minutes. The photos are gorgeous, and of course those meatballs look delicious! I remember wandering the streets of Amsterdam and stopping in nearly every cheese shop there. Gouda deserves a spot on the list of the most tasty things of all-time! We also found a hard(ish) goat cheese that was so very different from the spreadable style of goat cheese here in the States. We've been hunting down something similar every since we got back. Keep posting...I need to continue living vicariously through your worldly adventures! #WolfpackEats

    1. I will keep posting, I promise. Today I took a lot of pictures today, so stay tuned my friend!

  12. Oh Mike - these are GORGEOUS photos... I feel like I visited Friesland and Dokkum myself! Loved reading every bit of your post -Gerbrich sounds like a doll indeed and what a lovely treat for you to cook for everyone (for the record, I don't think I've ever had a guest cook for me)!
    I am not a huge fan of beef - but one time a friend of mine and his wife made these ah-mazing meatballs that I couldn't get enough of - and yours sound very similar to theirs! And that sauce - I think I could eat my way out of a pool full of that sauce!

    1. Thanks Shashi, I actually took a lot of pictures because you asked me to in my previous post. So it makes me super happy to hear you're so enthusiastic about it!

    2. Awww- you are the sweetest of the wolves! ;)
      Thanks Mike - I LURVE seeing pictures of please keep 'em coming!

  13. OMG these meatballs are amazeballs! YUMMMMMM!

  14. On vacay and still posting recipes?? Mike, you are a blogging rockstar. It looks beautiful there, by the way. It must be quite a change from the NY life? Recipe looks awesome too, as usual. I fed my kids their first ever meatballs a couple of weeks ago, and they've been asking for more ever since! I bet they'd love these. :-)

  15. Not to stalk, but we made these last week. WOW!!! We threw the meatballs with the sauce and some was fabulous. We also had meatballs and sauce leftover so we made sandwiches. I'm actually planning to make this for my family during my visit back to the states because they're that good!!!

    1. That's so awesome! Thank you for taking the time to let me know, I appreciate it!

  16. OK. I need to go there & I must dive into these meatballs stat!

  17. Can you substitute anything for the almond meal? Cornmeal? Bread crumbs?

  18. I substituted the almond meal for rolled oats that I whizzed in the processor. I also used Gouda with cumin, not smoked. It was super yum! Empty plates all round.