Melt the butter in a large, deep, oven-proof skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook about 1 minute, until it begins to soften. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic and red pepper flakes and mix just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, water, a touch of salt and pepper to taste. Lower the heat to low and allow to simmer while you make the meatballs.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with heavy duty foil and coat the foil generously with non-stick cooking spray.
Place all of the ingredients for the meatballs in a large mixing bowl. Use your hands to combine well. Form the mixture into meatballs about 1-1/2 inch in diameter. Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until browned, but not entirely cooked through. Remove the meatballs from the oven and reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees.
Remove the simmering sauce from the heat and add 1/3 cup heavy cream or half- and-half. Transfer browned meatballs to the pan with the sauce. Sprinkle the mozzarella and additional Parmesan over the top. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese is fully melted and bubbling and the meatballs are cooked through, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and garnish with the fresh basil. Serve warm.
Adapted from Annie's Eats
- Original source Dinner, A Love Story