Baked Meatballs with Rigatoni
About once a month, my stomach and my brain wage a war of attrition over my latest food craving. My stomach says, “Must have macarons. All day. Every day,” and my brain says, “think of your favorite jeans! Think of the dress you’ll have to be cut out of!” My stomach just responds, “talk to the hand!” and proceeds to drag me all over New York City (and even Paris) in search of my next macaron. Some months it’s Greek yogurt, other months it’s DessertTruck Works, sables — you name it. This month, it was meatballs. Sure, I managed to stave my stomach off for a few weeks (it wasn’t cold enough outside, meatballs aren’t fall enough, etc.). But in the end, my stomach won out. As usual.
The last time I needed a fix, I went to The Meatball Shop in the Lower East Side. But this time, I decided to make my own. (Well actually, Keith made them while I took pictures. Same thing, really.) He made this recipe up, and let’s just say he’s a lot better at that kind of thing than I am. This isn’t the most traditional recipe, but it’s easy, delicious and can be made with things we already had on hand — perfect for a weekday night.
For the meatballs:
– 1 pound ground sirloin
– 1 cup breadcrumbs (we used Italian style, which were preseasoned. If you use regular, or make your own, kick up the other seasonings a notch or two)
– 2 large eggs
– 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano, grated (or Parmesan)
– 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
– 1 tablespoon Italian seasonings (or a mix of dried oregano, basil, garlic powder, etc.)
– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard*
– salt and pepper, to taste
– 2 cups of your favorite tomato sauce (my go-to recipe is here)
– 1 pound of your favorite pasta (we used rigatoni)
*Somewhere in Italy, someone’s nonna just had a heart palpitation, but the mustard keeps the meatballs moist and adds subtle flavor
1) Mix the ingredients with
a fork your hands until incorporated. Shape the meat into 1-inch balls and place them, evenly separated, on a lined baking sheet. You should end up with about 16 meatballs.
2) Bake the meatballs at 400˚F for about 20 minutes, until they have browned completely.
3) While the meatballs are baking, heat up the tomato sauce in a large pot. When the meatballs have finished in the oven, place them in the sauce and simmer, uncovered, 15-20 minutes. (Hint: now’s a good time to start your pasta.)
4) Serve the pasta with the meatballs and sauce. Top with more grated cheese. Let your stomach brag to your brain about how it has won, yet again.