Italian Regional Recipes Primi Piatti: Pasta, Rice, Soups

Rigatoni Pasta with Mini-Meatballs

Rigatoni con le Polpettine, a classic dish of Southern Italian tradition is perfect for a special Sunday lunch.

Any other short pasta like Paccheri, Penne Rigate or Fusilli, just to name a few, work very fine with this sauce.


Serves: 4 | Preparation : 40 mins | Cooking : approx. 2 hours

  • Tomato sauce: 500 ml
  • Plum tomatoes: 400 g
  • Minced meat (veal or beef or pork): 400 g
  • Rigatoni Pasta or any other pasta shape: 350 g
  • Bread, Stale or Fresh: 80 g
  • Pecorino cheese, grated: 60 g
  • Milk: to taste
  • Eggs: 2
  • Onions, small-sized: 1
  • Garlic clove, 1
  • Fresh Parsley, to chop: 1 sprig
  • Breadcrumbs: as needed
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) for deep-frying: as needed
  • Basil, fresh: to taste
  • Salt and pepper: to taste

Method

Start by preparing the mini-meatballs:

Finely chop the parsley, set it aside.

Peel and mince the garlic clove.

If you are using fresh bread, cut off the crust. Soak it in the milk for at least 5 minutes or until it softens, squeeze it to get rid of as much milk as possible. Put in a large bowl minced meat, grated Pecorino, minced parsley, minced garlic, two eggs, a pinch of salt and pepper and use your hands to mix all the ingredients together.

Tip: Add more Pecorino or breadcrumbs if the mixture is too soft.

Place the breadcrumbs in a shallow plate. Shape small meatballs of about 2 cm, pass them in the breadcrumbs until they’re thoroughly coated.

Heat up some Evoo in a pan and deep-fry the meatballs until they take on an even golden colour. Use a skimmer to remove them from the oil and place on a plate lined with kitchen paper.

Proceed now to preparing the tomato sauce: 

Slice finely the onion, stir-fry it in a pan with 2 tbsps of Evoo; when the onion softens, add the tomato sauce and plum tomatoes with some basil leaves. Season it to taste with salt and pepper, let it simmer for about 20 mins, then add the mini-meatballs to the sauce.

Cover with a lid and cook for about 50 minutes over low heat. If the sauce is still very liquid and hasn’t thickened, remove the lid and cook it for some minutes further.

Boil the pasta in salted water and drain it when it’s still al dente (means a couple of mins before the cooking time on he packaging). Mix the sauce and the cooked pasta in a bowl; keep aside some of the sauce to pour over the pasta once served in each individual plate.

Serve topped with a generous handful of grated Pecorino cheese.

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