Pasta will forever be my weakness. I like several varieties of Italian pasta but homemade baked pasta is my Kryptonite; that and chocolate, but I digress. I really love this recipe because you can really get into it with the meatballs. There’s something about mixing with your hands that I find enjoyable. This recipe takes a little longer than most, but it’s absolutely worth it; great for kids or having a couples dinner and wine night.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:
1 lb. – Pasta, Ziti or Penne
24 oz. – Pasta sauce, your favorite
12 oz. – Cheese, mozzarella or Italian blend
2 Tbs. – Heavy whipping cream
1 – Parsley, a sprinkling
1 – Parmesan cheese, a sprinkling
Canola Oil

Meatballs:
½ lb. – Ground beef
½ lb. – Ground pork
2 tsp. – Garlic, minced
¼ c – Bread crumbs
1 tsp. – Parsley
½ tsp. – Salt
¼ tsp. – Black pepper
1 Tbs. – Italian seasoning
1 – egg

In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the meatballs; combine using your hands until the mixture is evenly blended. Using a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, roll the meatballs to 3/4 inch or 1 inch balls.

Tip: when balling the meatballs, I find it less messy to wash my hands and then rub my hand with olive oil. This keeps the meat from sticking to my palms as I roll the meatballs.

Bring a large pot of water to a high boil and cook the pasta until al dente, or firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. You’re going to bake it later and you won’t want it to be mushy at the end. When ready, drain in a colander under running water before transferring to a very large mixing bowl.

Preheat your oven to 400°F with the baking rack placed in the middle.

In a sauce pot over medium heat, add enough canola oil to cover 3/4 of the meatballs. Once the oil is properly heated, add the meatballs one at a time to avoid splashing. Roll the meatballs around in the oil about once per minute to cook evenly, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate.

Tip: to gauge how long it will take to cook your meatballs through, remove a meatball and cut it in half to ensure the center is cooked. I usually eat that one. If your meatball is darkened on the outside but raw in the middle, reduce the heat.

Once all of the meatballs are ready, transfer them to the very large mixing bowl with the pasta. Next, add the pasta sauce, heavy whipping cream, half of the cheese and incorporate all parts evenly. Transfer to a greased baking dish, cover with the remaining cheese, some Italian parsley and Parmesan cheese. Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes; loosely cover with tin foil if top begins to brown too quickly.

Serve with red wine and/or rustic Italian bread. Some alterations to the recipe may include adding pepperoni, sautéed mushrooms, black olives or sundried tomatoes.

Serves 6-8