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Pasta with Mini Meatballs and Fresh Marinara

Pasta with Mini Meatballs and Fresh Marinara

Pasta with Mini Meatballs and Fresh Marinara is perfect for the whole family, kids love the “bite” sized meatballs while adults enjoy the grown-up flavors.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Course Main Course, Pasta
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 servings
Calories 490 kcal


  • For the Sauce:
  • 1 medium onion chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 6 ounces red wine remember, the alcohol cooks off so it’s o.k. even for the kids, but you can substitute a non-alcohol wine such as Fre, Ariel or Vandalia, just DO NOT use anything labeled “cooking wine” or omit altogether
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dry ( to be honest, dry basil doesn’t have much flavor IMHO)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup minced fresh parsley like basil, dried parsley doesn't have much flavor and fresh is always available in the supermarket so why bother with the dried stuff?
  • For the Meatballs:
  • ½ pound lean ground beef
  • ½ pound ground pork veal or turkey
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • ½ cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs or as needed
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound Fusilli Pugliese pasta or use Cavatappi, Cavatelli, Gemelli or Orecchiette (all have good nooks and crannies to hold the sauce), cooked according to package directions, and well-drained


  • Heat the oil in a saucepan; add the onion and garlic, saute over medium heat until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the tomato paste and saute for a few minutes; add the tomato sauce, along with the wine, and herbs. Mix well, lower the heat and simmer slowly for about an hour.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the meatballs – combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl; using clean hands mix well adding more breadcrumbs if the mixture seems to loose (this is something kids love to do). Form small, about ¾ inch, meatballs. After the sauce has cooked for an hour, add the meatballs and simmer for 30 minutes more.
  • Pour the sauce and meatballs over the pasta; toss gently to combine. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired. 


Serving: 1gSodium: 605mgFiber: 4gCholesterol: 105mgCalories: 490kcalPolyunsaturated Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 6gFat: 18gProtein: 33gCarbohydrates: 44g
Keyword family favorite, fresh pasta sauce, kid-friendly, mini meatballs
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