A 30-minute delicious, cheesy meatball pasta dish that is sure to please your family and friends!
You can never go wrong with meatballs and cheese, especially when you’re a mom! Meatballs is one of those dishes that is a sure pleasure for kids and kids-at-heart. I also take the chance to add veggies in there like spinach, zucchinis, broccoli, carrots, kale, your options are endless.
The meatballs in this recipe are super moist, and you’ll find out below what the secret ingredient is. Plus it’s oozing with gooey cheese which makes it even more delectable!
Key ingredients in this recipe:
BINDER. I used sourdough bread soaked in a bit of milk as a binder instead of the usual bread crumbs. The difference? This gives you moist, less dense meatballs which soak up more of the tomato flavor from the pasta sauce. You can also use any regular bread (minus the crust) instead of sourdough.
PASTA SAUCE. I normally would use italian diced tomatoes in cans, but for this one I tried to use passata sauce which is uncooked tomato pureé. It’s thicker in consistency and pretty much the rawest form of tomato sauce. Most of your local groceries would have this. To flavor it, I added my favorite seasonings dried oregano, and basil.
MINCE. I used a mix of pork and veal instead of my usual chicken or beef as it has more fat and gives the meatballs a much more flavorful taste. And if you can, go for grass-fed meat which is a healthier, more sustainable option and which also tastes better.
CHEESE. Grated parmesan is added into the meatballs mix itself which makes it extra cheesy when baked. Although you can also grill or shallow-fry these meatballs, I prefer baking them as it’s less greasy. I also added some more parmesan and fresh mozarella just right after the pasta sauce is cooked. There’s never such a thing as too much cheese, right?
Make your meatballs in advance and keep it chilled if using the next day. Or you can also freeze a batch which you can easily thaw and cook for dinners or lunches on another day. The pasta sauce can also be made in advance and chilled or frozen.
- 2 slices sourdough or other bread of choice (crust removed and can be set aside to make croutons)
- 1/4 cup milk of choice
- 500 grams pork & veal mince
- 1 medium carrot, grated
- 1 onion, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 egg
- 1/3 cup fresh parsley
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 3/4 cup grated parmesan
- 2/3 cup grated mozarella
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 700 grams passata sauce
- 400 grams spaghetti
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- salt and pepper
- Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, tear the bread into pieces and add the milk. Let it soak for at least 5 minutes. Then squeeze out excess milk.
- In a large bowl, mix the mince, egg, garlic, onion, grated carrots, parsley, lemon juice and zest, soaked bread, and half of the parmesan cheese. Mix by hand or with a spoon until well combined. Season with salt and pepper.
- Roll about a tablespoon of the mix into a ball. Arrange on the tray about half an inch apart. Bake for about 10-12 minutes until golden brown. You can also grill or shallow-fry the meatballs if not using an oven.
- In a saucepan or dutch oven, heat the olive oil, then add your passata sauce, and dried oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to simmer. Slowly add back in the cooked meatballs into the simmering sauce and let it cook for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, boil some water in another saucepan with some salt, and cook your pasta per package instructions or until al dente. Save some pasta water and drain the pasta once cooked.
- Add your mozarella into the meatball sauce, and turn off heat. You can add a little pasta water if it's too thick. Transfer your pasta on a dish and pour the meatball pasta sauce over it. Sprinkle some more parmesan cheese and chopped parsley. Enjoy!
If you ever make this recipe, let me know how you and your kids love it. And don’t forget to tag me in Instagram @tara_fitfoodiemommy if you take a shot and share it.
And if you love pastas, be sure to check out my ZUCCHINI LASAGNA which is another family favorite!