tray-baked penne with meatballs

Make this Tray-baked penne with meatballs on a Saturday and it will keep the family going all weekend – super meatballs, pasta, cheese and tomato sauce – how good can it get?



Serves 6


1/3 cup (80ml) olive oil

2 red onions, diced

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

200 g bacon rashers, rind removed, diced

2 x 400 cans of chopped tomatoes

500 g penne

2 ½ cups (300g) ricotta

200 g mozzarella

¼ cup basil, plus extra to serve

1 cup (80 g) grated Parmesan


Beef meatballs

1 kg lean beef mince

1 cup (70g) fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs

½ cup (40g) grated Parmesan

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 egg, lightly beaten

2 Tbsp chopped sage

2 Tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley



Preheat oven to 200 deg C or 180 deg C fan bake.

To make meatballs, place all the ingredients in a large bowl. Season and mix well. Using wet hands, roll mince mixture into walnut-sized balls.

Heat half of oil in a large, deep frying pan on medium. Cook meatballs, turning for 3-4 mins until browned all over. Remove from pan.

Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in same pan on medium. Cook onion for 5 mins, until softened. Add garlic and cook for 1 min, until fragrant. Add bacon and cook for 3-5 mins, until crisp. Add tomato and meatballs, reduce heat to a low simmer for 15 mins, until meatballs are cooked through.

Meanwhile, cook penne in a large saucepan of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup of cooking water.

Return penne to saucepan with reserved cooking water. Add meatballs and tomato sauce, ricotta, half the quantity of mozzarella and basil, then gently stir until just combined. Transfer penne mixture to a 8 cup-capacity baking dish and scatter over a mixture of Parmesan and the other half of mozzarella. Bake for 20 mins, until golden and bubbling. Scatter over extra basil and serve.


We used Puhoi ricotta.