Thursday, November 19, 2015

Spaghetti and Parmesan-Pesto Meatballs

My family loves, loves, loves meatballs - I love to make them and we all love to eat them. Lucky for me, my kiddos are adventurous when it comes to meatballs and they love trying new spins on the classic dish. Meatballs are a dish that we get to have a lot of fun with around here, plus the kids get super excited when they hear we will be having Spaghetti and Meatballs for dinner. My most recent meatball creation are these Parmesan-Pesto Meatballs, which were an instant hit with the whole family. This is such a delicious twist on the traditional dish of Spaghetti and Meatballs!!

These Parmesan-Pesto Meatballs have only a handful of ingredients to them {lean ground beef, grated parmesan cheese, pesto, garlic, salt and pepper} but they pack an unforgettable flavor. I've added pesto to meatballs before and loved the results so I decided to up the ante and also include a heaping amount of grated parmesan cheese. And more garlic. {if given the option, I will always take more garlic!} I would recommend using fresh grated parmesan for taste's sake, but I am sure the shelf-stable grated parmesan would work as well.

And while my kiddos are always willing to try a new take on one of their favorite comfort foods one thing they are not willing to budge on is the pasta sauce. It must be red sauce. They don't want alfredo or pesto mixed with their pasta. And they are serious about this! If I am not making a batch of homemade marinara sauce then it's jar of Ragu. Ragu doesn't use artificial flavors or high fructose corn syrup which is super important to me. In fact, Ragu was founded by a mom who wanted nothing but the best farm-grown ingredients and flavors in her recipes - and that's something I can relate to.

So, if you like meatballs, pesto and parmesan cheese - you should love this recipe for Spaghetti and Parmesan-Pesto Meatballs. The flavors are simple and amazing. As a hardcore pesto lover I couldn't be happier that my kiddos enjoyed this recipe, I will definitely be making it again!

Spaghetti and Parmesan-Pesto Meatballs
yields approximately seventeen 1½” meatballs
2lbs lean ground beef
½ cup grated parmesan
½ cup pesto sauce
1½ tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 24oz. jar pasta sauce {I used Ragu Old World Style Traditional}
1 box 1lb spaghetti, cooked according to package
1 Heat oven to 425
2 Mix together ground beef, parmesan, pesto, garlic, salt and pepper. Make sure mixture is fully incorporated, using hands is really the best method here.
3 Line baking sheet with wax paper. Form 1½” meatballs out of meat mixture and place on wax paper. To make a meatball I take the meat in my hand and smash it all together one last time before forming the ball. By smashing the meat together it seems to hold the form of a ball better during the cooking process.
4 Heat olive oil in an oven-safe skillet. Add meatballs until pan is full but not over-crowded. Cook for 5 minutes, occasionally rotating to evenly brown/cook. It may be necessary to do two batches, depending on the size of the skillet being used. Remove meatballs from skillet, wipe skillet clean and add meatballs back in. Pour pasta sauce over the top, using a spoon to evenly distribute. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
5 Remove from oven, uncover and allow to cool.
6 Serve over prepared pasta. Enjoy!

Do you like creating your own recipes, whether they be a twist on a classic or an all new creation? Right now Ragu has a recipe contest {Ready.Set.Cook.}which challenges home cooks to create new and unique recipes featuring Ragu sauce plus a set list of other ingredients. The grand prize is $3000! Make sure to check it out!!


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