Penne al Forno con le Polpettine (Meatballs)

2 hours
  • Total Time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 4-6 1x


  • 1 pound penne or ziti
  • 4 ounces provolone cheese, coarsely chopped
  • 8 ounces scamorza cheese (or mozzarella), coarsely chopped
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated

For the Sauce:

  • 1 28 ounce can peeled Italian tomatoes, pureed
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

For the Meatballs:

  • 1 pound chopped beef (sirloin, 85%)
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf (Italian) parsley, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Parmigiano or pecorino cheese, grated
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white ground pepper
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Milk, as needed (water is an alternative)
  • 4 slices Italian bread, without the crusts (or 1/2 cup breadcrumbs)
  • Olive oil for frying

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Prepare the Meatballs:

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (salt, pepper, Parmigiano, parsley, and garlic), and then add the beaten eggs. Dip the bread in milk or water, squeeze out most of the liquid and then mix it into the egg mixture Once the ingredients are thoroughly combined, add the meat and mix thoroughly by hand. If the mixture seems dry, add a tablespoon or two of water.
  2. Take a small amount of the meat mixture and shape into a small ball (about the size of a large marble), until you have formed all the balls. In a large skillet, heat about 1/4 cup of olive oil. When the oil is hot, place the meatballs in the skillet, with enough room to allow you to easily flip them over. Cook the meat balls on a low heat until brown on all sides (but being careful not to burn them). Remove the meatballs from the skillet place on a paper towel to drain.

Prepare the Sauce:

  1. Chop the onion and fry it in the olive oil and skillet used to fry the meatballs. When the onion is golden, add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Cook on low heat, uncovered for 20-30 minutes until reduced.

Assemble the Pasta:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta for half of the package recommendation, until very al dente. Drain the pasta and place into a baking dish. Mix in the cheese, the meatballs, and the sauce. Sprinkle with Parmigiano.
  3. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the top is golden.
  4. Serve immediately.

Ed's Review

'Tis the season... which means many a family gathering, which means many a fight and lots of passive aggression (except for me and my perfect family).

I recently dined with Jackie the Jokeman (of Howard Stern Show fame). I thought that a few of his jokes could help anyone survive the holidays. But remember: Think them all you want, just don't say them aloud at the holiday table.

If ugly was a crime, you'd get the electric chair.

Does your face hurt? It’s killing me.

Your face could make an onion cry.

I bet your psychiatrist makes you lie face down.

I bet after you were born the doctor slapped your mother.'re going to make someone else's life very long.

If you looked out the window, you’d get arrested for mooning.

If I took you to the zoo, they’d thank me for bringing you back.

As for the pasta, a delicious baked Calabrian holiday specialty, you can substitute mozzarella for the scamorza or provolone, and add some chopped soppresata if you'd like. As for the meatballs (and for all of the "meatballs are an American invention" skeptics among you), they just might really be Italian (very southern) after all. But make them as small as you can.

Buon Appetito!

Edwin Garrubbo

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