Recipe details

Denise says:

  • You can never have too many pasta or meat ball recipes and this one should certainly be added to the repertoire. Family friendly, can be made in advance.
  • I have used rigatoni pasta which is shaped like a tube and can vary in lengths and diameters.
  • It is usually ridged as it comes from the Italian word which means ‘ridged’.
  • The sauce gets trapped in the tubes and ridges.  It is most common in Southern and Central Italy.
  • Preparation Time: 25 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 40 minutes
  • Serves: 4-6 people


  • 500g minced beef
  • 1 onion – peeled and finely chopped
  • 50g stoned black olives and roughly chopped -optional
  • 50g medium matzo meal
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 red chilli – deseeded and finely chopped
  • 2- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • Salt and pepper – to taste
  • 400g rigatoni pasta or use penne
  • Tomato Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions - peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 carrots – peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic – roughly chopped
  • 750g tomatoes – roughly chopped or 2x 400g tin tomatoes
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil leaves – roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons – caster sugar
  • ½ red chilli – de-seeded and finely chopped – optional
  • 1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Heat the oven to 200 C/ 400 F/ Gas mark 6.
  • To make the meat balls combine all the ingredients together.
  • Using wet hands, divide the mixture into small balls about the size of a walnut.
  • Place the meat balls on a tray lined with baking parchment paper and bake for 15 minutes.
  • For  the sauce, heat the oil, fry the onions, garlic, carrots together in a saucepan for about 5 minutes.  Then add the tomatoes and chilli if using. Mix together, bring to the boil and simmer with the lid on for about 15 minutes until reduced and thickened.
  • Add the sugar, ketchup and basil and season well.  Puree or liquidize the sauce and return to the saucepan. Simmer on a low light.
  • Remove the meat balls from the oven tray and transfer to the sauce.
  • Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.
  • Drain the pasta and return to the saucepan and pour over the meatballs and sauce.
  • To serve the stylish way:  Dust the plate with smoked paprika and garnish with sprigs of basil.