ROASTED RED PEPPER & MINI-MEATBALL ORECCHIETTE

Excuse me, excuse me – a huge bowl of comfort food awesomeness coming through!

Can we take a minute to sit and appreciate the greatness of a big bowl of pasta – especially after it’s piled high with cheese and thrown into the oven so said cheese becomes a big gooey pool of tasty cheesy-ness. Um, *drool*!

How good is that? The pasta, the sauce, the fillings, and the cheese, all coming together into a meal that will satisfy even the most tempestuous of comfort food cravings because

BIG BOWL OF (MELTED CHEESE LADENED) PASTA = COMFORT FOOD GREATNESS

And this is what I have for you today; a really simple, really quick and delicious pasta bake-style recipe that can be thrown together from ingredients to steaming bowl of foodie awesomeness in very little time (with very little effort required either which, of course, is the ultimate goal of comfort food creation – bravo!)

So, get your mega comfort food appetite at the ready, my foodie friend, because I’m going to break this recipe down and tell you all about it…

THE PASTA

As you may have noted by the recipe title, we are indeed going to use Orecchiette or “ear-shaped” pasta for this recipe. Why? Because it sounds cool. If you think I’m joking about this justification for using Orecchiette pasta then you, my foodie friend, would be wrong. I used Orecchiette pasta in this recipe – and no other type of pasta whatsoever – because it sounds cool. Simples.

Because I’m that kinda guy. I need to stand out a little.  I have that desperate need to make my a) very simple b) very humble pasta bake sound fancy and cool…

Because we can always have penne // rigatoni // tagliatelle // spaghetti // and other such regular pasta shapes such as the little bows and the shells but how often do you see Orecchiette pasta – either in the supermarket, in a recipe or, perhaps on a restaurant menu?

Not often I’m guessing. Honestly neither had I and, up until I stumbled across the packet of Orecchiette pasta in the “fancy” pasta section of my local store – I didn’t know Orecchiette was a thing either.

Of course, it goes without saying that ear-shaped // shell-shaped // bow-shipped // penne // rigatoni  // macaroni or any other type of pasta is still pasta no matter its shape – a rose by any other name kinda deal – so although I have deliberately used Orecchiette pasta for this recipe because of the “cool” factor, this recipe will certainly not taste any less “cooler” or be any more hassle to prepare if you decide to use a more regular shape of pasta.

THE SAUCE

The Nude-Food Hero’s 5 minutes roasted red pepper sauce is probably one of my favourite recipes so far created on this blog, and I’ve probably used it in more recipes than I’d like to admit. If you’ve been following this little blog for any period of time, you’ll know I like to create a new roasted red pepper sauce recipe every week or so and usually accompany said recipe with an essay-length spiel about the sauce.

And here it is again, in yet another recipe (I can’t get enough). But I won’t hold you up too long by explaining it to you so I’ll give you the 5 Minute Roasted Red Pepper sauce 411 in three simple bullet points:

  1. It’s quick to make; only five minutes (hence its title) simply throw roasted peppers ((either store-bought or roasted in your own oven) into a blender with garlic, herbs, oil, water and – Bam! – you’re good to go
  2. It’s delicious: need I say more?
  3. It is an ideal replacement for the tomato-based sauce: give classic recipes a bit of a flavour twist by using this sauce instead of the usual crushed tomatoes // tomato sauce and see.

THE MEATBALLS

The red pepper sauce is going to provide most of the flavour in this dish so I’ve kept the meatballs pretty plain and simple – just to keep comfort food making at it’s easiest just in case your enthusiasm for making food is at an ultimate low (and your food cravings at an ultimate high)

Whilst the pasta is cooking away, you are going to throw ground beef together with a diced onion, garlic, dijon mustard, dried herbs and a pinch of salt a dash of pepper. Everything will get churned together before rolled out into mini-meatballs and pan friend until slightly golden.

Simples.

And then it is a simple case of pouring the 5 minute roasted red pepper sauce over the meatballs, followed by the pasta, stirring everything together into a saucy, meaty, comfort food mix before throwing into a baking dish, smothering with cheese, and baking until gooey!

Simple, quick and delicious. What else could you ask for in comfort food awesomeness?

Until next time foodies!

ROASTED RED PEPPER & MINI-MEATBALL ORECCHIETTE

CUISINE: Italian | RECIPE TYPE: Main | SERVES: 4 to 6

PREP TIME: 20 mins | COOK TIME: 30 mins

INGREDIENTS:

400g Orecchiette Pasta (see note)
2 cups [url:1]Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
60g of your favourite cheese
A few leaves of fresh basil, coarsely chopped

The Meatballs:

400g ground beef (mince)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt

METHOD:

Combine all the ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl, making sure everything is evenly distributed. Scoop out 1/2 tablespoon measures of the mixture and roll into balls. Place the meatballs in a large pan or skillet and cook over medium-high heat until lightly browned.

Meanwhile, cook the orecchiette pasta in boiling water until cooked. Preheat your oven to 200°C/ 390°F

Add the roasted red pepper sauce and pasta to the meatballs and stir until well combined. Transfer to a baking dish and sprinkle/ crumble over the cheese. Place in the oven for 15 minutes. Sprinkle over the chopped basil and serve