pasta, pesto, pecorino… meatballs!

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Only days ago 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 we have 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.



For the record:
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 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.




pasta, pesto, pecorino... meatballs!
A simple affair based on pasta with lots of green pesto & topped with meatballs: pecorino is everywhere - in the pesto as well as in the meatballs with its characteristical flavour.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time15 mins
for the pasta:
  • 300 g pasta cellentani
  • 100-200 g green pesto
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil OR cream - OPTIONAL
  • 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.
  • OPTIONAL: 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.



When mixing cellentani & meatballs the meatballs crumble & you get a nice pasta mess.

It’s best when served immediately!



…& the plates & bowls will quickly empty out…



The businesswoman w/ too many office hours thinks

I’m not so fond of kneading minced meat… hands get really greasy, but for the sake of nice soft & crispy meatballs!
…& no way that I make my own pesto from scratch for dinner after hours in the office: my trusted food store will provide a pesto which is like homemade!








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