A delicious recipe for Baked Pasta with pork meatballs

400g pork mince (this makes a LOT of meatballs, so leave some out of the pasta bake, they’re perfect for baguette sarmies the next day)
¼ tsp dried red chilli flakes (add a bit more if you like a cheeky bite!)
½ tsp fennel seeds, finely crushed,
½ tsp salt
1 slice white bread, soaked in milk then drained
2 cups red onion, finely diced
2 tbs garlic, crushed
2 tbs tomato paste
2 cans of tomatoes
1 fresh bay leaf
1 tsp salt
1 tsp brown sugar
5 tbs water
½ cup fresh cream
olive oil, for frying
300g short pasta of your choice, cooked until al dente (I used shells as that’s what I had, but I think rigatoni would be even better)
1 cup grated mozzarella

How to
Mix the mince, chilli, fennel, ½ tsp salt and white bread until it just comes together (take care not to over-mix or your meatballs will become quite dense).

Shape small meatballs of equal size – use a tablespoon as a measure. Fry them in olive oil until nicely browned all over. Remove and set aside.

Fry the onion in 6 tbs olive oil over a medium heat until soft. Add the garlic and tomato paste and fry for a minute.

Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, salt, sugar and water and boil, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Remove bay leaf and blitz in your food processor or with a stick blender until smooth.

Return to the pan and stir in the cream. Heat through. Stir in the pasta and meatballs. Transfer to an ovenproof dish, scatter over the cheese and bake in a hot oven until the cheese has melted and just started to brown here and there.

Serve immediately.

Recipe by Lizet Hartley, courtesy of Melkkos & Merlot, a bilingual blog about food.

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