Sunday, July 11, 2010

Pesto and Mozarella Meatballs with Pasta

I think I have found my new go to quick family meal .

I will spare you the details of who eats what when I make the traditional pasta and meatballs. Who wants spaghetti , who wants penne , who wants sauce and who only nibbles at their meatballs before they declare they are full to the hilt and who looks at the sauce under a microscope before they will even contemplate eating the meal.

Once again we sat down to a meal that sought of came together in stages , when my little gourmet declared " you have to put this on your blog" . Mind you, this was after I had served everyone , I looked into the bowl and there was barely enough left to qualify a well presented dish ....... but taking into account how much I am flying by the seat of my pants lately, we should be grateful for small miracles.

So , out comes the camera and with the light of the evening dinner table , and everyone collectively holding their breaths - I took the photo. Once again please forgive and understand presentation is lacking in this photo - but taste is certainly not lacking .

Welcome to pasta with turkey meatballs , made with basil pesto and fresh mozarella. They are delicious and light, a wonderful break from the traditional tomato based sauce and a hit with the whole family .

I started making turkey meatballs with pesto and provolone cheese for customers when I had my  catering business happening and they were always a hit . In this particular case I knew I wanted meatballs, I had excess fresh mozarella left over from pizza night and I am staring at my basil plants in the pot contemplating beautiful dishes.

Confession up front, the pesto is store brought however the meatballs have fresh basil from my garden . My preference of late is ground turkey , I am sure this recipe will also work well with ground beef - I would recommend a mix 50/50 of ground sirloin and ground round.

So go ahead and make this dish - enjoy it during these summer months and I am sure it will become a family staple.

Pesto and Mozarella Meatballs with Pasta
a GG original recipe

1lb ground turkey meat 93% lean
1 large fresh mozarella ball
1/2 -3/4 cup coarsely grated parmesan/asiago /pecorino mix , or to taste
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
6 large fresh basil leaves , julienned
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
fat free milk - to moisten the breadcrumbs
basil pesto
canola oil

pasta of your choice

Combine all ingredients except the basil pesto. Add the fresh mozarella to the mixture by cutting it up into little chunks with your hands - they do not have to be perfect a shape. Or you can grate it coarsely on a box grater .

Once you have combined all of the above ingredients - flatten out the mixture in the bowl slightly, then drop dollops of the pesto over the mixture - then with your hands fold the meat mixture into itself gently so that you do not end up with a green meatball mixture - but rather  little pockets of pesto , little pockets of mozarella .

Place the mixture in the fridge for a couple of hours before forming into meatball.

Meanwhile prepare your choice of pasta according to packet directions.

Preheat your oven to 400F and preheat a non stick pan , add a little canola oil. Remove the meatball mixture form the fridge and form into meatballs either using a small- icecream scoop or free form . Shallow fry in the canola oil  then finish cooking them in the oven for about 8-10 minutes depending on their size. They will not be cooked in any sauce therefore you need to make sure they are cooked thoroughly.

Once the pasta is cooked , add some pesto ( to taste) in the bottom of the bowl and add the pasta with a little bit of the pasta water to the bowl ( this helps to loosen up the pesto) - toss thoroughly to combine then place the pesto meatballs on top and serve with a salad.

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