This Italian-style dish is the perfect indulgence for any night of the week. Its ingredients are easy to find in the supermarket and it can be whipped up in a flash. The dish is a modern twist on the classic pasta meatball combo, adding in additional ground beef for a meatier experience.
Although many people think of pasta and meatballs as a traditional Italian meal, you are actually unlikely to find it on the menu in authentic Italian eateries. Whilst Italians do eat meatballs, their meatballs are, in fact, very different from the ground beef balls Americans typically associate with the dish. In fact, you will be hard pushed to locate a pasta and meatballs dish that looks anything like this dish in a restaurant in Italy!
Meatballs gained popularity in the late 1800s, offering an affordable food option to poor immigrant families landing in America. Tomatoes and spaghetti were also both cheap and easy to find ingredients, so their inclusion in dishes served in Italian-American families became an increasingly common occurrence. The custom of adding chili, garlic and other seasonings also stemmed from Italian immigrants in America.
The pasta itself was actually discovered by Marco Polo during a trip to China in the 13th Century. On return to Italy, he referred to the new discovery as ‘lasagne’, which at that point in time meant ‘noodles’ in Italian. It quickly gained popularity and was soon a common ingredient to be found in Italian kitchens.
- 1 cup ground beef
- 1/8 onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1 cup cooking cream
- 8 meatballs
- 1 tsp chili flakes (add more for an extra spicy option)
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp fresh garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tsp rosemary
- 6 cups rigatoni pasta (or another choice of pasta shells)
- Optional: Tapatio and tabasco sauce for added spice
- Season with salt and pepper to taste
- Heat frying pan and add a small amount of oil.
- Add onions and ground beef. Fry over a light heat until beef is browned.
- Meanwhile, cook meatballs at 220 Celsius in the oven. Boil 1 large saucepan of water.
- Drain the fat from the ground beef mixture.
- Add the tomato sauce, chili flakes, lemon juice, fresh garlic, and rosemary. The Tapatio and Tabasco can be added to taste either now or later on. Mix well. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes.
- Once the water has boiled, add the pasta. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for approximately 15 minutes.
- After 12-15 minutes, the meatballs will be cooked.
- Add to the tomato and beef mixture. Stir and continue to simmer until the pasta is ready.
- Once the pasta is cooked, drain with a colander. Combine the sauce mix and pasta in a large saucepan. Add salt and pepper (and Tapatio and tabasco) to taste.
- Serve and eat immediately. For an even more indulgent meal, add some grated cheese.