These baked meatballs in a rich tomato sauce could be whipped up in a matter of minutes! The perfect weeknight meal!
Hello Tuesday, which is really kind of like a Monday since we just had a bank holiday weekend. So you know what it’s like. We are slowly and painfully getting into the work mode. Back to work, school runs, making dinners. Not to worry though, as I am bringing you an easy dinner option today. These baked meatballs in rich tomatoes sauce with mozzarella and arugula is a snap to make, especially if you use store-bought meatballs!
This recipe is a riff off another popular recipe on my blog, Baked Shells with Pesto, Mozzarella and Meat Sauce. What sets it apart from other meatball and red sauce recipes is the combination of a tomato sauce and a basil pesto for a creamier and more flavourful MEGA SAUCE.
Prepared pesto is a such an amazing ingredient to have in your arsenal. Apart from using it straight up in pasta dishes, it could also be used as a flavour enhancer in a variety of ways as the mix of basil, olive oil, pine nuts and parmesan cheese is a real winner!
I’ve also added some peppery arugula for a complexity of flavour and a bonus health boost. Mini mozzarella balls take these baked meatballs to another level of deliciousness! If you can’t find them in your grocery stores, feel free to used regular-sized fresh mozzarella or even shredded mozzarella!
Enjoy and let the rest of your week be equally delicious!
- 1 lbs beef, extra lean
- 1 lbs pork, extra lean
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp of each dried basil and oregano
- ¾ cup/75g oats or breadcrumbs (I used oats)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 4-5 fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 2X 14 oz/400g cans chopped tomatoes
- 3 tbsp basil pesto
- salt to taste
- 2 cups/100g arugula/rocket
- ½ cup/125 g fresh mozzarella balls, small
- 4 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 4-5 basil leaves
- In a large bowl combine both meats, beaten egg, pesto, oats and salt, mix well and shape into 20 meatballs. (Alternatively you can use store-bought meatballs and skip this step.)
- Heat olive oil in a large frying pan and brown the meatballs over medium heat but don't cook all the way through. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400F/200C
- To the same pan add 1 tbsp of olive oil, chopped garlic and basil and cook briefly for 1 minute, then add canned tomatoes previously processed in a blender until smooth or leave chunky for extra texture if desired, then add 3 tbsp of basil pesto and salt, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and let it simmer for approximately 5-7 minutes.
- Return the meatballs to the pan with the sauce, add arugula and mix, then scatter mini mozzarella balls, halved cherry tomatoes and basil leaved on top.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until the sauce is bubbly and mozzarella is melted and golden.
- Serve with pasta or a side of your choice.