- 12 ounces whole wheat Penne Pasta
- 1 pound Ground Pork
- 2 large Eggsslightly beaten
- 1/2 cup Onionminced
- 1/2 cup fine dried Bread Crumbs
- 1 cup Pecorino Romanograted
- 1 teaspoon Kosher
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Pepper
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin Olive Oil
Italian Tomato Sauce
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin Olive Oil
- 1/2 Onionchopped
- 2 cloves of Garlicminced
- 1 Carrotsminced
- 1 cup Kaleminced
- 3 cups chopped canned Tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon dried Oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Pepper
- 1 cup chopped fresh Spinach
- Instead of ground pork, use Ground Beef
- Instead of Kosher, use Sea Salt
In Italian restaurants across the country (USA), meatballs in tomato sauce are standard fare, so students are already familiar with these flavors. Penne with Pork Meatballs recipe provides a good opportunity to use commodity beef and tomatoes in combination with fresh kale, to prepare a made-from-scratch entrée.
Content on this page…
- Did you Know?
- About Italian Penne with Pork Meatballs recipe
- Italian or American cuisine?
- Why Penne Pasta? Can I use variations like Spaghetti, Fettucine, Fusilli or Macaroni?
- Why whole wheat penne?
- What kind of meatballs are in the world?
- What about the seasonings?
- Recipe Instructions (Steps for Italian Penne with Pork Meatballs) ↓
I always think of the Disney movie “Lady and the Tramp” when I eat pasta with meatballs. Isn’t cute and romantic that scene where they are eating this kind of dish and then kiss!? Meatballs are probably one of the most widely eaten and adored foods in the world because are easy to make and affordable. Penne with Pork Meatballs are made obviously with pork meat, but you can also use ground turkey, buffalo, or lamb.
When preparing meatballs, the meat is combined with bread crumbs and eggs for binding, also seasoned with Mediterranean herbs and spices to enhance the flavor. While pan-frying is the fastest way to cook meatballs, baking them is simple and can save you a few calories (especially when preparing pork meatballs).
Small History of meatballs
This kind of recipe goes back to the Roman Empire period – the classic cookbook by Apicius includes a section on minces, mixtures of meat (peacock, pheasant, and rabbit were their favorites) with other ingredients. Some historians believe the first meatballs were made in Persia and are still around today as kofta.
It is widely believed that penne pasta with pork meatballs was an innovation of early 20th-century Italian immigrants in New York City, who had access to a more plentiful meat supply than in Italy. So, penne with meatballs is kind of a hybrid recipe from Italian–American cuisine, but despite what everyone says, penne with pork meatballs have existed not only in the U.S. but also in Italy’s Abruzzo region. In Italy, these two should never be on the same plate (unless you’re in Abruzzo), but in New York, pasta with pork meatballs is a red sauce statement.
I made this recipe with Penne & pork meatballs even though the classic recipe of pasta with meatballs is prepared with spaghetti because of the small striation from the surface of the penne. If you look more closely you will see it, this striation holds more sauce than a smooth pasta (like spaghetti). To answer that question, you can use spaghetti, fettuccine, fusilli, or macaroni but because I am a big fan of marinara, I used penne.
Whole grains have been a part of the human diet for tens of thousands of years. While a high intake of refined grains is linked to health problems like obesity and inflammation, whole grains are a different story. In fact, eating whole grains is associated with various benefits, including a lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Whole grains pasta has many important nutrients like:
- Vitamins / Whole grains are particularly high in B vitamins
- Minerals / They also contain a good amount of minerals, such as zinc, iron, magnesium, and manganese.
- Protein / Whole grains boast several grams of protein per serving.
- Antioxidants / Many compounds in whole grains act as antioxidants.
- Plant compounds / Whole grains deliver many types of plant compounds that play a role in preventing disease.
As health benefits, the whole wheat penne lowers your risk of heart disease, stroke, and reduces the risk of obesity.
As a fact, every culture has a meatball, Swedish have köttbullar, Spanish have albondigas, Dutch have bitterballen, Greeks have keftedes, Romanians have chiftele, South African skilpedjies, and from India through the Middle East, kofta. These are just a few examples of the widespread popularity of meatballs, which are often made with lamb, pork, and other meats.
You may think that the oregano in your sauce just provided a distinct Italian or Mediterranean flavor, but those little herbs are plants, which means they have all sorts of health benefits that can make a big impact on your overall health. You may be surprised to know that herbs and spices are also loaded with healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which help decrease inflammation in the body, as a matter of fact, oregano used in these Italian Meatballs with penne, is a spice that contains fiber, iron, manganese, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A, and omega-3 fatty acids. It’s shown to have antibacterial and antioxidant properties.
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Prepare the ingredients
Slightly beat the eggs, mince the onions, garlic, carrot, and kale. Set aside (each in a different bowl).
Prepare the Sauce
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and carrot and sauté until the onion is nearly translucent about 1 minute. Add the kale, tomatoes, oregano, spinach, kosher (or sea salt), and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are tender about 30 minutes.
Prepare the pork meatballs
Preheat an oven to 400ºF. Meanwhile, make the pork meatballs. In a large bowl, combine the pork, eggs, onion, bread crumbs, pecorino, Kosher, and some pepper. Mix well. Moisten your hands with water, and shape the mixture into small, bite-size balls. Place the meatballs on a baking sheet and drizzle them with the olive oil.
Prepare the Penne Pasta
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Add the penne and cook until tender to the bite (or al-dente), about 10 minutes. Drain.
Serve the Penne with Pork Meatballs
Serve the penne topped with sauce and the remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Enjoy!