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Fusilli and meatballs recipe

Fusilli and meatballs recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Ingredients
  • Meat and poultry
  • Beef
  • Beef pasta

Hearty, healthy and everyone's favourite Italian dish – don't you want pasta and meatballs for supper tonight? Unlike traditional recipes, these meatballs are low in fat, yet they're full of the terrific taste you crave.

185 people made this

IngredientsServes: 6

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 cans (about 400g each) no-salt-added plum tomatoes
  • 4 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 slices day-old firm-textured white bread
  • 450g (1lb) lean minced beef
  • 1 medium egg
  • 2 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
  • pepper to taste
  • 350g (12oz) long fusilli pasta

MethodPrep:30min ›Cook:1hr20min ›Ready in:1hr50min

  1. Coat a large saucepan with cooking spray or a teaspoon of olive oil and set over a medium-high heat. Sauté the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes or until soft. Transfer 2 tablespoons of the onion mixture to a large bowl. Set aside.
  2. Whiz the tomatoes, with their juice, in a food processor until fairly smooth. Add to the saucepan. Bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer, stirring often, for 30 minutes. Add the basil and oregano halfway through this time.
  3. Process the bread until crumbs form. Add the crumbs, beef, egg, milk and pepper to the onion mixture in the bowl and mix just until blended. Shape into 20 meatballs about 2.5cm (1in) diameter. Coat a frying pan with cooking spray or olive oil and set over medium-high heat. Cook the meatballs, in batches, for about 8 minutes or until browned on all sides. Drain on kitchen paper. Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. Drain and toss with 3 ladlefuls of the sauce in a large heated serving bowl. Spoon the meatballs and remaining sauce over the top, then serve.

Some more ideas

*Make turkey or chicken meatballs, using minced turkey or chicken breasts instead of minced beef.
*For spicy meatballs, add ½ tsp crushed dried chillies, or more to taste, to the meat mixture.
*Try other pasta shapes such as penne or rigatoni in place of the fusilli. For added fibre, choose wholemeal pasta.
*Serve the pasta with a mixed salad or a vegetable. A quickly made dish of courgettes, peppers, green beans or asparagus, sautéed in 1 tsp olive oil with some crushed garlic and black pepper, is delicious.

Health points

Pasta with meatballs is a healthy dish, especially when you include cooked tomatoes. Studies have shown that lycopene, a phytochemical in tomatoes, is best absorbed by the body if the tomatoes are cooked, not raw.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(5)

Reviews in English (6)

Would add some sugar with the tomatoes as this reduces the acidity. Do this to most all savoury dishes that have tomatoes in them.Was given this tip by an Indian friend when she shared some curry recipies with me.-13 Aug 2012

Altered ingredient amounts.When I make this again I will add more herbs and spices, and probably blend some red peppers with the tomaotes or add a little stock, as it was too tangy. I would also alter the amount of liquid used for the meatballs, as they were quite soft.-02 Apr 2009

This was a nice dish, though very tomatoey and tangy. Will make again but with alterations.-02 Apr 2009


Marsala, mushrooms, and veal are old pals, and come together in many Italian dishes. It was a natural progression to turn them into a meatball sauce for twisty fusilli pasta. Use dry Marsala, and save the sweet version for making desserts.
Makes 4 to 6 servings

Veal Meatballs
• 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
• 1/4 cup milk
• 1½ pounds ground veal
• 2 large eggs, beaten
• 1/4 cup minced shallots
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
• 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Marsala Mushroom Sauce
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
• 10 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
• 2 tablespoons minced shallots
• 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup dry Marsala
• 1¾ cups homemade beef stock or canned reduced-sodium beef broth
• 1/3 cup heavy cream
• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 1 pound fusilli, fettuccine, or spaghetti
• Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
• Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

1. To make the meatballs, stir the bread crumbs and milk together in a large bowl and let stand until the crumbs soak up the milk, about 3 minutes. Add the veal, eggs, shallots, parsley, salt, and pepper, Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or up to 4 hours. Using your wet hands rinsed under cold water, shape into 18 equal meatballs. Transfer to a baking sheet.

2. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, about 7 minutes. Stir in the shallots and cook until they soften, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and stir well. Add the Marsala and bring to a boil. Stir in the broth and cream and return to a boil.

3. Carefully add the meatballs to the sauce and return to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, about 20 minutes. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.

4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the fusilli and cook according to the package directions until al dente. Drain well and return to the pot.

5. Using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the meatballs to a platter (they are more delicate than most meatballs). Add the sauce to the fusilli in the pot and stir well. Transfer the fusilli and sauce to a large warmed serving bowl, top with the meatballs, and garnish with parsley. Serve hot, with Parmesan passed at the table.

  • 250g/9oz beef mince (around 15% fat)
  • 50g/1¾oz dry white breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 150g/5½oz button mushrooms, halved
  • 1 red and 1 yellow pepper, seeds removed, cut into 2cm/¾in chunks
  • 1 courgette, cut into 2cm/¾in chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 400ml/14fl oz vegetable stock, made with 1 stock cube
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 225g/8oz dried pasta shapes, such as penne or fusilli
  • 100g/3½oz cheddar, grated
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix the mince with the breadcrumbs, half the oregano, 4 tablespoons of cold water, a good pinch of salt and lots of pepper. Form into 16 small balls.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and fry the meatballs for 5 minutes, turning regularly.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan and fry the onion, mushrooms, peppers and courgette for 8–10 minutes, or until softened and beginning to brown, stirring regularly. Add the garlic and cook for a few seconds more, stirring constantly.

Tip the tomatoes into the pan and stir in the tomato purée, stock, remaining oregano and the bay leaf. Add the meatballs and bring to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and lots of pepper.

Meanwhile, half-fill a large saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Add the pasta to the water and return to the boil. Cook for 10–12 minutes, or until tender, stirring occasionally

Preheat the grill to high. Drain the pasta and return to the pan. Add the tomato and meatball sauce and toss. Transfer to a warmed, 2-litre/3½-pint shallow ovenproof dish – a lasagne dish is ideal.

Sprinkle the cheddar over the top and place under the hot grill for 2–3 minutes, or until the cheese has melted, then serve.

Recipe Tips

Ready-grated mixed cheddar and mozzarella is ideal for this recipe, but you could also use coarsely grated cheddar only, or a mixture of other cheeses.

Additional Info for Penne Pasta with Pork Meatballs

In Italian restaurants across the country (USA), meatballs in tomato sauce are standard fare, so students are already familiar with these flavors. Penne with Pork Meatballs recipe provides a good opportunity to use commodity pork and tomatoes in combination with fresh kale, to prepare a made-from-scratch entrée.

Content on this page…

About Italian Penne with Pork Meatballs Recipe

I always think of the Disney movie “Lady and the Tramp” when I eat pasta with meatballs. Isn’t cute and romantic that scene where they are eating this kind of dish and then kiss!? Meatballs are probably one of the most widely eaten and adored foods in the world because are easy to make and affordable. Penne with Pork Meatballs are made obviously with pork meat, but you can also use ground turkey, buffalo, or lamb.

When preparing meatballs, the meat is combined with bread crumbs and eggs for binding, also seasoned with Mediterranean herbs and spices to enhance the flavor. While pan-frying is the fastest way to cook meatballs, baking them is simple and can save you a few calories (especially when preparing pork meatballs).

Small History of meatballs

This kind of recipe goes back to the Roman Empire period – the classic cookbook by Apicius includes a section on minces, mixtures of meat (peacock, pheasant, and rabbit were their favorites) with other ingredients. Some historians believe the first meatballs were made in Persia and are still around today as kofta.

Italian or American cuisine ?

It is widely believed that penne pasta with pork meatballs was an innovation of early 20th-century Italian immigrants in New York City, who had access to a more plentiful meat supply than in Italy. So, penne with meatballs is kind of a hybrid recipe from Italian–American cuisine, but despite what everyone says, penne with pork meatballs have existed not only in the U.S. but also in Italy’s Abruzzo region. In Italy, these two should never be on the same plate (unless you’re in Abruzzo), but in New York, pasta with pork meatballs is a red sauce statement.

Why Penne Pasta? Can I use variations like Spaghetti, Fettucine, Fusilli or Macaroni?

I made this recipe with Penne & pork meatballs even though the classic recipe of pasta with meatballs is prepared with spaghetti because of the small striation from the surface of the penne. If you look more closely you will see it, this striation holds more sauce than a smooth pasta (like spaghetti). To answer that question, you can use spaghetti, fettuccine, fusilli, or macaroni but because I am a big fan of marinara, I used penne.

Why whole wheat penne?

Whole grains have been a part of the human diet for tens of thousands of years. While a high intake of refined grains is linked to health problems like obesity and inflammation, whole grains are a different story. In fact, eating whole grains is associated with various benefits, including a lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Whole grains pasta has many important nutrients like:

  • Fiber
  • Vitamins / Whole grains are particularly high in B vitamins
  • Minerals / They also contain a good amount of minerals, such as zinc, iron, magnesium, and manganese.
  • Protein / Whole grains boast several grams of protein per serving.
  • Antioxidants / Many compounds in whole grains act as antioxidants.
  • Plant compounds / Whole grains deliver many types of plant compounds that play a role in preventing disease.

As health benefits, the whole wheat penne lowers your risk of heart disease, stroke, and reduces the risk of obesity.

What kind of meatballs are in the world ?

As a fact, every culture has a meatball, Swedish have köttbullar, Spanish have albondigas, Dutch have bitterballen, Greeks have keftedes, Romanians have chiftele, South African skilpedjies, and from India through the Middle East, kofta. These are just a few examples of the widespread popularity of meatballs, which are often made with lamb, pork, and other meats.

What about the seasonings ?

You may think that the oregano in your sauce just provided a distinct Italian or Mediterranean flavor, but those little herbs are plants, which means they have all sorts of health benefits that can make a big impact on your overall health. You may be surprised to know that herbs and spices are also loaded with healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which help decrease inflammation in the body, as a matter of fact, oregano used in these Italian Meatballs with penne, is a spice that contains fiber, iron, manganese, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A, and omega-3 fatty acids. It’s shown to have antibacterial and antioxidant properties.

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Take 2 packs of good quality sausages.

Split the skins and squeeze the meat into a bowl. Discard the skins.

Add lemon zest, fresh basil and seasoning. Mix and shape into even-sized meatballs.

Place on a plate and chill for 30 minutes.

Add olive oil in a deep, non-stick frying pan. Brown the meatballs, in batches for 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Chop a red onion and a red pepper.

In the same pan, fry the onion and pepper for 10 minutes.

Add 1 carton of passata with pepper and chilli.

Put a splash of water in the empty carton and add to the mixture.

Return the meatballs to the pan and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.

Veggie Pasta Bake with Meatballs recipe

2 courgettes – trim ends & cut into cubes (1cm)
200g cherry tomatoes – cut in half
1 red onion – cut into wedges (1cm)
300g fusilli pasta
500g steak mince
1 tbsp mixed herbs
2 cloves garlic – peel, grate finely & chop
6 tbsp basil pesto
olive oil (from your pantry)
salt & pepper (from your pantry)
tin foil (from your pantry)

How to
Preparation: Preheat the oven to 200°C. Boil the kettle. Prepare all ingredients as indicated above.

Roast veggies: Place the courgettes, cherry tomatoes and red onion wedges on a tin foil lined baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper then mix and arrange in a single layer. Roast for 20 minutes until golden and cooked.

Fusilli pasta: Place a pot on medium-high heat and add the boiling water. When the water is at a rolling boil, add the fusilli and cook for 12 minutes. You want it al dente, which is slightly chewy and translucent. Drain and drizzle with a little olive oil to keep it from sticking together.

Meatballs: Mix together the steak mince, mixed herbs and garlic, season generously with salt and pepper and shape the mixture into golf ball sized meatballs. Add a drizzle of olive oil to a pan on medium-high heat. When hot, add the meatballs and cook for 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned and cooked through. Move them around in the pan to make sure they brown evenly.

Serve by mixing the roast veggies and basil pesto through the pasta and top with the meatballs.

500g of pasta of your choice (I used Carmelina Fussili available from Mediterranean Wholesalers)

While this is not the quickest sauce to make, it is the easiest and one of the tastiest. My Nonna always says that no sauce can ever be properly cooked for less than 2 hours, and I think she’s probably right. This is an incarnation of a Napoletana sauce, you can use fresh tomato, tinned tomatoes, but her way (and my preferred way) is by using passata. Passata is a legit Italian tomato puree, which you cook and flavour. It makes the sauce so smooth and delicious, I’d eat it with a spoon like yoghurt (and have).

First things first, using a mid-sized pot, heat up some olive oil on high heat on the stove. Once the oil is hot, toss in diced onions, diced chilli (only use half or not at all if spicy is not your vibe), chilli flakes, garlic clove (I cut it into half and then remove once sauce is cooked), salt and pepper and fry together.

Once the onions are semi caramelised, I add a splash of red wine. No fancy stuff here, a clean skin red is perfectly acceptable and encouraged. When the wine has semi evaporated I then add in about two generous handfuls of basil leaves torn / chopped and continue cooking. What we are doing now is creating ‘the base’ of the sauce. This is the most important step as it informs the taste for the entire dish. You don’t want the basil to shrivel up into nothing the way spinach does, so while it is lightly sauteed but still green and the onions are fully caramelised, we add the passata. Yes, the entire bottle.

Mix your ‘base’ in with the passata, then using the now empty passata bottle fill it up with water 2/3 full and add it to the pot. Sounds weird, but trust me.

Keep the pot on high heat and stir occasionally until the sauce starts to boil, when this happens I usually add a not-so-secret Italian addition to any good sauce, a pinch or two of sugar. I stir a bit more, then keep the sauce simmering on low heat for 2 to 2.5 hours, tasting in between and adding any extra salt or sugar needed. You’ll know when it tastes good, and you’ll definitely know when it doesn’t so be patient, and keep adding until you get it perfectly flavoured to suit your taste. After the two hours or so you’ll see the sauce will have condensed and thickened up.

Split the sausage skins and squeeze out the meat into a bowl. Discard the skins.

Add the zest, basil and seasoning. Mix and shape into 26 even-sized meatballs. Place on a tray and chill for 30 minutes.

Heat the oil in a deep non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat and brown the meatballs, in batches, for 5 minutes.

Remove and set aside. In the same pan, fry the onion and pepper for 10 minutes. Add the sauce, then fill the empty sauce jar with a splash of water and add that as well.

Add the meatballs, bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a pan of boiling salted water, until al dente.

Baked Fusilli Pasta Recipe

Ingredients for 6 people

1 lb 8 oz fusilli, 1 lb 8 oz pizzutelli tomatoes, 7 oz mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil, 7 oz grated pecorino Romano cheese, 3 oz oregano, salt, pepper.


Put some oil in a pan, add the tomatoes, washed and cut into pieces, the sliced mozzarella, pecorino cheese, salt and pepper. Cover with a lid and let the sauce cook for about 15 minutes. In the meantime boil the fusilli in plenty of salted water. One minute before the end of the cooking time, drain them and put them in the pan with the tomatoes and mozzarella, so that they can be cooked again. After one minute remove the pan from the heat, sprinkle with a pinch of oregano and pour everything into a baking pan. Bake the pasta at 400° F for 5 minutes and then serve the steaming Vesuvian fusilli.


  1. Edwy

    I am sorry, this option does not suit me. Maybe there are more options?

  2. Anubis

    Great!!! Everything is super!

  3. Eadweard

    Yeah, now it's clear ...Otherwise, I didn't really understand right away where the connection with the title itself is ...

  4. Pernell

    and in what city, what country ?? very creative !!!!!)))))

  5. Hania

    Well done, what words necessary ..., the excellent idea

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