just pasta savoury delights

pasta, pesto, pecorino … meatballs!

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… & my series of pasta dishes continues while we are still in Northern Spain!

I learnt from Juls’ Kitchen that „pasta w/ meatballs“ originally isn’t Italian, but an American invention (same as for Alfredo, chicken parmigiano …), however, there’s also some pasta recipe from Jul’s granny creating very tiny meatballs. Inspired by this post I started my own version of pasta w/ meatballs.

I managed to create some creamy pasta w/ lots of pesto & on top meatballs – not tiny meatballs, not big meatballs like hamburgers: more some size in between w/ a rather soft texture & crispy bottom & top.

Let’s start …

What do we need?

First I grabbed for cellentani – big curly pasta able to get coated w/ lots of pesto …

… so for the pasta:

  • cellentani
  • green pesto w/ basil & pecorino

…& for the meatballs:

  • minced meat (organic beef only!)
  • fine breadcrumbs
  • dried parsley
  • garlic
  • spring onions
  • eggs
  • freshly grated pecorino.

We start preparing the meatballs.

Breadcrumps & parsley are mixed; then some water is added. Add enough water that the breadcrumbs get soaked & squishy, but don’t let it become mushy, i. e. be tight w/ water.

(If you don’t happen to have some freshly grated pecorino in your fridge from yesterday or so, then start grating pecorino now.)

Chop the spring onions – as fine as possible.

In a big bowl we assemble the meat, the squishy breadcrumb mix, the chopped spring onions, the eggs & the pecorino. Roll up your sleeves & start kneading. Don’t forget salt & pepper to taste.

Form meatballs & arrange them in an oiled frying pan.

Start frying at high temperature. The meatballs shall get crispy outside. Be careful when turning them over because they are rather soft inside & like to crumble.

It won’t take longer than 15 min to get the meatballs well done.

Parallel to the frying we cook the cellentani in salted water, drain them & add the green pesto at once. If you think it’s too dry just add some olive oil or cream to taste.

I used green pesto from my trusted food store. Of course I know that we can make our very own pesto from scratch… Just buy fresh basil leaves, pine nuts, grate pecorino, add olive oil…

Years ago I had a nice small fancy mortar w/ pestle (main characteristic: „small“). I wasn’t really happy w/ it: it was tiny & I could only pestle very small amounts of whatever. When thinking about the amount of pesto I need for my pasta dish I’m sure such a mortar wouldn’t be wise. Therefore: if you think you’ll have to prepare pesto from scratch make sure to lay hands on a mortar of appropriate size or use a food processor.

For the rest of us just ransack the pasta corner of your trusted food store for ready-to-use pesto made w/ premium ingredients w/o any artificial whatever.

Now we just combine the cellentano w/ pesto & our crispy, soft meatballs. When mixing cellentani & meatballs the meatballs crumble & you get a nice pasta mess.

It’s best when served immediately!


pasta, pesto, pecorino… meatballs!
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Servings: 4
for the pasta:
  • 300 g pasta (cellentani)
  • 100-200 g green pesto
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil (or cream)
  • salt
for the meatballs:
  • 400 g minced meat (beef only)
  • 1-2 clove of garlic (pressed)
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 2 eggs
  • 100 g grated pecorino
  • 2 tbsp fine bread crumbs
  • some water
  • 2-3 spring onions
  • some olive oil
  • salt & pepper
how to:
  • Take a frying pan & oil the bottom.
  • Add pressed cloves of garlic & eggs to the minced meat.
  • Mix breadcrumbs & dried parsley w/ some water; the breadcrumbs will soak up the water: it shall become a creamy (not liquid!) mess – then add to the minced meat.
  • Chop the spring onions & add to the minced meat.
  • Grate the pecorino & add to the minced meat.
  • Add salt & pepper to taste.
  • Knead the minced meat until all is incorporated & form small meatballs.
  • Place the meatballs in the frying pan & fry at high temperature for some minutes; the bottoms of the meatballs should be crispy.
  • Try to turn the meatballs – attention: it tends to become a mess because the meatballs are rather soft.
  • In parallel: cook the cellentani in salted water as long as demanded (see package).
  • Drain & add green pesto immediately.
  • Add some olive oil or cream if it seems too dry!
  • Put pasta & meat balls on plates & serve immediately.
Cook Time: it’s about 15 min if you do meatballs & pasta in parallel. 15 min for the meatballs mean that they are well done & crispy on top & on bottom, but soft & crumbly inside.
Green pesto: I used a ready-to-use pesto w/ basil, pine nuts, pecorino, garlic… a rather intensive pesto from my trusted food store. It depends on you how much pesto to add to the pasta. For 300 g cellentani I recommend 100 g as minimum. If it’s too dry w/ the minimum just add some olive oil or cream. If you prefer more pesto flavour just add more pesto.
Minced meat: I used organic beef; therefore there was almost no water in the frying pan when frying. The meatballs are rather delicate & tend to break easily. If there is a lot of water it’ll become a real mess!
Garlic: I had rather big cloves of garlic on my kitchen shelf – so 1 clove was ok. If smaller use 2 of them.
Pecorino: I took pecorino because the pesto was also made w/ pecorino. In general you might also take grated parmesan.
Fill the plates w/ pasta & meat balls on top & serve immediately. You may mix pasta & meatballs, but then the meatballs will crumble (which isn’t bad at all for the pasta dish!).
You may store leftovers in the fridge for a day or so; reheat in the microwave. It’ll get a little dry so add some olive oil or cream when reheating.