favorite
print
like
PREP 30 minutes
TOTAL 1 hour
Serves
US | METRIC

INGREDIENTS

Tomato sauce
  • 1 tin good quality plum tomatoes
  • 500 g good quality passata
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsps chopped fresh basil
Meatballs
  • 250 g pork mince meat
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes (use less if you are sensitive to chilli)
Pasta bake
  • 150 g dried pasta - Rigatoni, Penne and Conchiglie all work well
  • 60 g mozzarella
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil (for garnish)
Pork meatball pasta bake with fennel and chilli

Pork meatball pasta bake with fennel and chilli

Pork meatballs flavoured with fennel seeds and chilli in a tomato and mozzarella pasta bake

  1. Start by making the tomato sauce. In a sauce pan, fry all four of the garlic cloves in a little olive oil. You want them to be lightly golden and fragrant but stop cooking before they burn or go crispy. Set half to one side and keep half in the pan. Add the chopped tomatoes and passata to the pan with a large pinch of salt and a grind of black pepper and the chopped basil. Leave this to bubble away for anything up to an hour, ideally reducing by almost half. The flavours reduce to make a really delicious sauce - you will only need half in this recipe but it freezes well and can be used for many other recipes too.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180℃.
  3. Next, make the meatballs. Mix the fried garlic from the previous step, the fennel seeds, chilli flakes and a pinch of salt and pepper into the pork mince and squish it all together. You want to really give it a good mix, to break down the pork fibres which will tenderise it. Keep squishing for five minutes - it will also be easier to form even meatballs.
  4. Once its really squished together, roll the pork mince into meatballs about 3 cm in diameter. You want to keep these quite small as it will stop them from drying out and enable better distribution on the pasta bake. Ideally you should get 10-12 meatballs from the mince mixture.
  5. Next, lightly brown the meatballs. We don't want to cook them the whole way through or they will be too dry after the pasta bake has been in the oven. Add a little olive oil to a frying pan and add the meatballs. Lightly brown on each side for a minute or so, cooking and rotating each ball until there is no visible pink.
  6. Meanwhile, cook your pasta for 2 minutes less than the instruction say, in hot boiling water.
  7. Finally - assemble the pasta bake! Mix together half of the pasta sauce into the cooked pasta and add the meatballs. Pour this mixture into a heatproof dish. Tear the mozzarella into small pieces and scatter all over the top of the pasta mix.
  8. Add the pasta into the oven and cook for around 15 minutes or until the mozzarella is melted and browned. Serve up with a crisp green salad or garlic bread depending on your mood!
Pork meatball pasta bake with fennel and chilli

Pork meatball pasta bake with fennel and chilli

Pork meatballs flavoured with fennel seeds and chilli in a tomato and mozzarella pasta bake

PREP 30 minutes
TOTAL 1 hour
favorite
print
like
Serves
US | METRIC

INGREDIENTS

Tomato sauce
  • 1 tin good quality plum tomatoes
  • 500 g good quality passata
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsps chopped fresh basil
Meatballs
  • 250 g pork mince meat
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes (use less if you are sensitive to chilli)
Pasta bake
  • 150 g dried pasta - Rigatoni, Penne and Conchiglie all work well
  • 60 g mozzarella
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil (for garnish)
  1. Start by making the tomato sauce. In a sauce pan, fry all four of the garlic cloves in a little olive oil. You want them to be lightly golden and fragrant but stop cooking before they burn or go crispy. Set half to one side and keep half in the pan. Add the chopped tomatoes and passata to the pan with a large pinch of salt and a grind of black pepper and the chopped basil. Leave this to bubble away for anything up to an hour, ideally reducing by almost half. The flavours reduce to make a really delicious sauce - you will only need half in this recipe but it freezes well and can be used for many other recipes too.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180℃.
  3. Next, make the meatballs. Mix the fried garlic from the previous step, the fennel seeds, chilli flakes and a pinch of salt and pepper into the pork mince and squish it all together. You want to really give it a good mix, to break down the pork fibres which will tenderise it. Keep squishing for five minutes - it will also be easier to form even meatballs.
  4. Once its really squished together, roll the pork mince into meatballs about 3 cm in diameter. You want to keep these quite small as it will stop them from drying out and enable better distribution on the pasta bake. Ideally you should get 10-12 meatballs from the mince mixture.
  5. Next, lightly brown the meatballs. We don't want to cook them the whole way through or they will be too dry after the pasta bake has been in the oven. Add a little olive oil to a frying pan and add the meatballs. Lightly brown on each side for a minute or so, cooking and rotating each ball until there is no visible pink.
  6. Meanwhile, cook your pasta for 2 minutes less than the instruction say, in hot boiling water.
  7. Finally - assemble the pasta bake! Mix together half of the pasta sauce into the cooked pasta and add the meatballs. Pour this mixture into a heatproof dish. Tear the mozzarella into small pieces and scatter all over the top of the pasta mix.
  8. Add the pasta into the oven and cook for around 15 minutes or until the mozzarella is melted and browned. Serve up with a crisp green salad or garlic bread depending on your mood!