Tray-Baked Pasta and Meatballs
In this recipe, the pasta and meatballs are layered up with a rich tomato sauce and loads of cheese and baked in the oven. Cooking the meatballs like this keeps them really juicy. It’s a brilliant, cheesy, decadent take on a very retro dinner.
|300g||penne or rigatoni|
|2 tbsp||olive oil|
|250g||buffalo mozzarella, torn into small bite-sized pieces|
|200g||Parmesan cheese, grated|
|6 slices||of Parma ham, cut into thin strips|
|For the meatballs:|
|80g||salami (preferably mortadella), diced|
|80g||Parmesan cheese, grated|
|100g||fresh white breadcrumbs|
|2 tbsp||roughly chopped fresh fat-leaf parsley|
|2 tbsp||plain flour, for dusting|
|2 tbsp||olive oil|
|For the tomato sauce:|
|1||red onion, peeled and finely diced|
|2||garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped|
|3 x 400g tins||of plum tomatoes|
|16||fresh basil leaves|
To make the tomato sauce, heat the oil in a saucepan and gently fry, without colouring, the onion and garlic. Next, add the tinned plum tomatoes and basil, season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up the tomatoes. Taste again and adjust the seasoning.
Meanwhile, make the meatballs. Combine all the ingredients except the flour and oil in a mixing bowl and season with salt and pepper. Use your hands to mix everything together. Roll the meatball mixture into small marbles, then dust with the flour. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a low to medium heat and gently fry the meatballs until lightly browned all over. Don’t overcrowd the pan - you may need to do this in batches. Remove from the pan and set aside. Preheat your oven to 180°C.
Towards the end of the sauce cooking time, cook the penne in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and toss in the olive oil to prevent it sticking. Carefully mix together the meatballs, cooked pasta and tomato sauce.
Spread about one-third of the meatballs and pasta mix over the bottom of a 25cm x 32cm ovenproof dish. Scatter over roughly one-third of the buffalo mozzarella pieces, the grated Parmesan, the Parma ham strips and the basil leaves. Continue to build the layers, finishing with a layer of buffalo mozzarella and Parmesan. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, until golden brown on top and bubbling.