Fusilli and meatballs

    1 hour 50 min

    Hearty, healthy and everyone's favourite Italian dish – don't you want pasta and meatballs for supper tonight? Unlike traditional recipes, these meatballs are low in fat, yet they're full of the terrific taste you crave.

    192 people made this

    Serves: 6 

    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 4 cans (about 400g each) no-salt-added plum tomatoes
    • 4 tbsp chopped fresh basil
    • 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried oregano
    • 2 slices day-old firm-textured white bread
    • 450g (1lb) lean minced beef
    • 1 medium egg
    • 2 tbsp semi-skimmed milk
    • pepper to taste
    • 350g (12oz) long fusilli pasta

    Prep:30min  ›  Cook:1hr20min  ›  Ready in:1hr50min 

    1. Coat a large saucepan with cooking spray or a teaspoon of olive oil and set over a medium-high heat. Sauté the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes or until soft. Transfer 2 tablespoons of the onion mixture to a large bowl. Set aside.
    2. Whiz the tomatoes, with their juice, in a food processor until fairly smooth. Add to the saucepan. Bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer, stirring often, for 30 minutes. Add the basil and oregano halfway through this time.
    3. Process the bread until crumbs form. Add the crumbs, beef, egg, milk and pepper to the onion mixture in the bowl and mix just until blended. Shape into 20 meatballs about 2.5cm (1in) diameter. Coat a frying pan with cooking spray or olive oil and set over medium-high heat. Cook the meatballs, in batches, for about 8 minutes or until browned on all sides. Drain on kitchen paper. Add the meatballs to the tomato sauce. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
    4. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. Drain and toss with 3 ladlefuls of the sauce in a large heated serving bowl. Spoon the meatballs and remaining sauce over the top, then serve.

    Some more ideas

    *Make turkey or chicken meatballs, using minced turkey or chicken breasts instead of minced beef.
    *For spicy meatballs, add ½ tsp crushed dried chillies, or more to taste, to the meat mixture.
    *Try other pasta shapes such as penne or rigatoni in place of the fusilli. For added fibre, choose wholemeal pasta.
    *Serve the pasta with a mixed salad or a vegetable. A quickly made dish of courgettes, peppers, green beans or asparagus, sautéed in 1 tsp olive oil with some crushed garlic and black pepper, is delicious.

    Health points

    Pasta with meatballs is a healthy dish, especially when you include cooked tomatoes. Studies have shown that lycopene, a phytochemical in tomatoes, is best absorbed by the body if the tomatoes are cooked, not raw.

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    Reviews in English (6)


    Would add some sugar with the tomatoes as this reduces the acidity. Do this to most all savoury dishes that have tomatoes in them. Was given this tip by an Indian friend when she shared some curry recipies with me.  -  13 Aug 2012


    Altered ingredient amounts. When I make this again I will add more herbs and spices, and probably blend some red peppers with the tomaotes or add a little stock, as it was too tangy. I would also alter the amount of liquid used for the meatballs, as they were quite soft.  -  02 Apr 2009


    This was a nice dish, though very tomatoey and tangy. Will make again but with alterations.  -  02 Apr 2009