Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Pesto Pasta with Mini Meatballs

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It's kind of funny...I couldn't wait to get to Italy and cook all these great dishes that I haven't been able to cook in Saudi, but I come to find that I can't get everything I want in Italy either!  I couldn't wait to eat kale...but couldn't find it anywhere, no matter how hard I searched.  Broccoli too...seems to have just disappeared from the Como area! 
And just a little note about Lake Como....I'm in love.  Just in love.  We stayed in a town called Menaggio...in my opinion, the best one on the lake...and it's just a short ferry ride to Bellagio and Varenna.  Menaggio (pronounced Men-A-jo) has a beautiful piazza and then you walk (uphill) all the way to our house.  We stayed where the old castle used to be in a 500 year old house.  It was so lovely and we made friends with the neighbors.  I was even lucky enough to be invited over for dinner!  It was great fun trying to talk Italian with them.  The food was wonderful.  (and yes, they even had the traditional Italian red and white table cloth)  :)

So, the next night I had to cook for myself and the girls.  No broccoli to be found, but at least they had cauliflower.  We'd already feasted on different tomato based sauces, so I wanted something different.  And keeping with the fact that I wanted to enjoy pork as much as possible, I figured some yummy meatballs would do the trick topped with a nice pesto sauce.  Had I been in my regular kitchen I would have made my own pesto, but with the serious lack of kitchen staples in my rented house, I went with the jarred kind.  Turned out wonderful and the girls really liked it as well.  Score one for mom!

1/2 lb sausage, casings removed (get creative here for different tastes...try spicy, sweet, Italian)
1/2 lb ground beef
1/4 cup bread crumbs
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup grated Parm/Reggiano cheese, plus more for topping
1/2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp sunflower oil
1lb pasta of your choice (I went with something fun for the kids)
1/2 cup pesto sauce (jarred or make your own)
Fresh basil (optional)

Cook pasta according to package directions.  When the pasta is done, drain, but do not rinse.
While waiting for the water to boil, combine all ingredients (through egg) in a bowl.  Mix to combine.
Shape mixture into 3/4in balls and set to rest on a plate.
Heat oil in a large, deep skillet, gently add meatballs.  Cook until brown all around (roll the meatballs around in the pan) and no longer pink on the inside.
Add pasta to the skillet with the meatballs and gently toss.  (You wanna coat the pasta in those lovely drippings!)  Add pesto and cook till heated through.  Top with fresh basil and cheese!  
Buon Appetito!  
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