Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Baked Tortelini with Meatballs

I love pasta!  With a nice side salad and some crusty fresh Italian Bread! And there is nothing out there like my Mom's recipe for Italian Meatballs! I love to make this recipe!  It's one of my favorite pasta dishes.

Baked Tortelini with Meatballs

1 (13 oz) bag fresh cheese tortellini 
2 cups of Marinara sauce or use a jar of your favorite sauce 
1/2 cup heavy cream 
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided 
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 11 x 7-inch baking dish.

In a pot of generously salted boiling water, cook tortellini for 3 minutes. It will be slightly under cooked at this stage because it will continue to cook in the oven. Drain well and return to warm pot but not on heat. Add a tablespoon of butter and toss lightly. In a large bowl, combine the the marinara sauce, heavy cream, and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Then add to the drained pasta and gently toss until coated. Season with salt and pepper if desired. 

Place the tortellini into the greased baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and mozzarella. Then bake uncovered for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and serve with homemade Italian Meatballs.

Italian Meatballs

1 pound ground beef 
1 pound ground pork 
1 cup bread crumbs, fresh or dried 
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan 
1/4 cup evaporated milk 
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil 
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley 
1 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon black pepper 
2 cloves garlic, minced 
1 small onion, chopped finely 
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, lightly mix all ingredients by hand, but do not pack down meat mixture. Take a portion of meat in hand, and roll between palms to form a ball that is firmly packed but not compressed. Repeat, making each meatball about 2 inches in diameter. Arrange meatball onto prepared baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven until browned and cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Makes about 16 meatballs. Serve with pasta of your choice such as Tortellini above.

Basic Marinara Sauce

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil 2 small yellow onions, finely chopped 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 2 celery stalks, finely chopped 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste 1/2 teaspoon pepper, plus more to taste 2 – 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes 2 dried bay leaves

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Sauté until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper to taste. Let the sauce cool, and then refrigerate or freeze it.

NOTE: This recipe makes 2 quarts of homemade sauce. The above recipe calls for just two cups. I freeze mine in Ziploc freezer bags for up to 3 months and use as needed for many recipes.

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