Rich chilli, garlic and tomato meatballs baked with penne, mozzarella and parmesan for a satisfyingly delicious pasta bake!
Ask any of my old flatmates the dishes that they most remember me for, and I think they would probably say ‘meatballs’! I’ve always loved cooking them (and eating them!). Meatballs and spaghetti was the first meal I ever made for my now husband (although that was a total disaster, I added a whole scotch bonnet chilli and it was HOTTER THAN THE SUN!) , he was so polite and sat and ate it all, the sweat pouring down his face!
My old ‘classic’ meatball recipe had an incredibly rich sauce, olive oil, cocoa powder, lots of tomato puree, sugar! I’ve pared it back these days as meatballs are still completely delicious even with an angelically healthy sauce. You probably know by now that I’m all for time-saving in the kitchen, and nowadays I always just blend all my sauce ingredients together raw, and then simmer them to save on chopping! I have a food processor that does all the work for me, but if you don’t have one you can always use a hand blender.
This only has 3 ingredients in the sauce (if I’m doing it for the kids I leave the chilli out), but it tastes amazing. I think one of the reasons for this is that you whizz the garlic raw into the tomatoes rather than pre-frying it, so that flavour just spreads sweetly throughout all of the sauce.
I have kept the meatballs here as basic as they get (ie just meat- no added breadcrumbs or seasoning), as the sauce has so much flavour that you really don’t need to mess around making fancy meatballs!
You can use any type of mince, pork, beef (or a mix), or turkey. Equally I keep meaning to try this with veggie balls make from either courgette or aubergine- watch this space!
I always use penne or rigatoni for this meatball pasta bake, I just think they work best (ie: looks best!), but really you can use any pasta you have!
Love meatball recipes? I have more! check out