Rowdy, with a chance of meatballs [2]

Sophia Loren Cookbook cover[Recipe 1] BEEF, PORK and RICOTTA MEATBALLS transform into
Have been spending way too much time faffing around on Pinterest lately. It’s a glorious time-waster, but where else would I have discovered this photo of Sophia Loren? It’s from her 1971 Cookbook, In Cucina Con Amore (In the Kitchen with Love), which I covet so badly.
The photo segues quite nicely into an Italian-inspired dish don’t you think? This is the third recipe to use reserved portions of beef, pork and ricotta meatballs and sweet tomato pasta sauce. It’s a fab cheesey lasagna-like macaroni dish, which I’ve named Lasagnaroni. My boys positively hoover it, and the whole family have minutes of fun playing Find the meatball.
If you’re feeling creative go ahead and bestow your own fancy name upon it, for everyone’s amusement. We like Soccer balls in the mud or Monster eyeballs in the swamp. Buon Appetito.

Macaroni cheese with meatballs

[Recipe 3] Lasagnaroni with meatballs

Ingredients (serves 4-6):
2 tablespoons olive oil
♦ 1 quantity (approx. 600g/1.3 lb) beef, pork and ricotta meatballs
♦ 1⅓ cups (600g) sweet tomato pasta sauce (or store-bought)
400g (14 oz) dried macaroni (or short-cut bucatini)
1 cup frozen peas (or fresh, shelled – see notes in recipe)
Salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon (15g/½ oz) butter
2 tablespoons plain (all-purpose) flour
1¼ cups (310ml) milk
1 cup (100g) grated Gruyère cheese
½ cup (50g) grated mozzarella, for scattering
½ tablespoon olive oil, extra, for drizzling

Preheat oven to 200°C (390ºF).
Lightly oil a large casserole dish and set aside.
Place remaining olive oil into a large non-stick frypan.
Add beef, pork and ricotta meatballs and brown well on all sides.
Pour in sweet tomato pasta sauce and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 8–10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, cook macaroni in boiling water until al dente. Don’t overcook it as it will continue to soften in the oven. Add frozen peas for the last 2 minutes boiling time (fresh peas will need about 4–5 minutes). Drain macaroni and peas and set aside.
Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add flour, and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Gradually add the milk, stirring continuously. Return to the heat and stir for about 3–4 minutes until thickened. Add Gruyère and mix well.
Place half the cooked macaroni and peas into the prepared casserole dish. Pour over meatballs and tomato pasta sauce. Season.
Layer the remaining macaroni and peas on top. Pour the Gruyère sauce over the top, and scatter with grated mozzarella. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes, until golden. Stand for 5 minutes before serving.

  • I love Gruyère and nearly always have it in the fridge. If unavailable it can easily be replaced with grated extra tasty cheese.
  • Leftovers can be taken to work for lunch, or to school in a thermos. Microwave or reheat in a low oven, covered in foil.
  • If you don’t have a deep-sided non-stick pan; cook the meatballs in a shallow-sided non-stick pan first; and transfer them to a deeper pan for cooking in the sauce.