Yield: about 20 sliders

Ingredients

For the sauce:
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (28 oz.) can tomato puree
1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce
2 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. sugar
Water (optional)

For the meatballs:
½ cup breadcrumbs, divided (I like panko)
¼ cup milk
1 lb. ground beef
1 egg
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. dried parsley
½ tsp. dried basil

For the pesto:
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
2 small cloves garlic
2 tbsp. pine nuts
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the sliders:
About 2 dozen white dinner rolls
Spray olive oil
Sliced provolone cheese (about 12 slices, depending on size)

  • step 1: HideShow Images

    To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion to the pot and sauté until tender, 5-8 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, stirring, about 1 minute.  Add the tomato puree, tomato sauce, parsley, basil, oregano, salt and sugar.  Add water to thin the sauce out to your desired consistency.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer.  Let simmer for at least 2 hours.

  • step 2: HideShow Images

    To make the meatballs, combine ¼ cup of the breadcrumbs with the milk in a medium mixing bowl.  Let stand 10 minutes.  Add the remaining breadcrumbs, ground beef, egg, garlic, salt, pepper, parsley and basil to the bowl.  Mix well until thoroughly combined.  Form into meatballs, about 1¼ inches in diameter.  Add the meatballs to the simmering sauce about 45 minutes before the sauce is finished.  Cover and let simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, 35-45 minutes.

  • step 3: HideShow Images

    To make the pesto, combine the basil, garlic and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until finely chopped.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  With the processor running, add the olive oil in a steady stream through the feed tube until well incorporated.  Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and stir in the grated Parmesan.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  • step 4: HideShow Images

    To assemble the sliders, preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  Slice the dinner rolls in half and lay open on a baking sheet.  Spray the rolls lightly with olive oil.  Bake for 5 minutes, just until lightly toasted.  Slice a cooked meatball in half and place both halves on the bottom portion of a roll, flat side down.  Spoon a small amount of sauce over the meatball.  Top with sliced provolone.  Repeat with the remaining rolls.  Bake again, 5 minutes more, just until the cheese is melted.  Spoon a small amount of additional sauce over the provolone, and finish small spoonful of the pesto on top.  Serve immediately.