Skip to content
Open menu Close menu

Feed your appetite for cooking with Penguin’s expert authors

penguin logo

Tray-Baked Pasta and Meatballs

by Luke Thomas from Luke’s Cookbook

A comforting pasta dish, which is perfect for a midweek meal. The beef and pork meatballs are met with a rich tomato sauce before being baked with tasty cheese.

From the book


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.

Read more Read less


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
16 basil leaves
For the meatballs:
100g minced beef
100g minced pork
80g salami (preferably mortadella), diced
80g Parmesan cheese, grated
100g fresh white breadcrumbs
2 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp roughly chopped fresh fat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp plain flour, for dusting
2 tbsp olive oil
For the tomato sauce:
100ml olive oil
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.

Please note: Moderation is enabled and may delay your comment being posted. There is no need to resubmit your comment. By posting a comment you are agreeing to the website Terms of Use.


Subscribe to The Happy Foodie email newsletter

Get our latest recipes, features, book news and ebook deals straight to your inbox every week

From the book: Luke’s Cookbook

Close menu