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Playing Sam Sifton's Meatball Salad | The New York Times Cooking No-Recipe Recipes

This meal idea from Sam Sifton's latest cookbook The New York Times Cooking No-Recipe Recipes combines meatballs with a crisp salad + a zesty dressing for a lighter twist on the classic spaghetti supper. 

"This is a salad I learned how to make at the elbow of pizza rector Mark Iacono, in the basement of Lucali, his candle-lit restaurant in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn: meatballs on top of a pile of torn iceberg lettuce studded with red onion, tomato, black olives, and celery, the whole thing absolutely drenched in a sharp, salty, vinegary dressing that was pink with tomato juices, like the stuff at the bottom of the salad bowl at the end of a big family dinner. It is crazily delicious." –Sam 

For more easy Italian ideas, check out this Skillet Chicken Parm, Rach's Toasted Cacio e Pepe and her Classic Garlic Bread

Adapted from The New York Times Cooking No-Recipe Recipes by Sam Sifton. Copyright © 2021 by Sam Sifton. Used with permission by Ten Speed Press. All rights reserved. 

The New York Times Cooking No-Recipe Recipes

The New York Times Cooking No-Recipe Recipes

$28 $18


  • Cooked meatballs
  • Olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Salt
  • Tomatoes
  • Black olives, plus brine (optional)
  • Red onion
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Celery
  • Sesame seed bread


I won't tell you how to make meatballs. You no doubt have your own ideas about that, say, ground beef and milk-moistened breadcrumbs, maybe, fried crisp and simmered in buttery tomato sauce. The important thing here is the dressing: olive oil with enough red wine vinegar in it that you're a little nervous about it. Then a lot of salt. Take a small tomato and squeeze it into the bowl. Maybe add a splash of olive brine. Definitely some slivered red onion. Whisk it all into an emulsified funk and adjust all dials to 11. It should taste like a cartoon salad dressing: its features larger than life. That goes over cold, chopped iceberg lettuce, some sliced celery tops, quartered tomatoes, black olives, and the rest of the slivered onion. Plop your meatballs on top and serve with a hunk of bread. It doesn't sound like much, perhaps. But it's really, really good.